The Parable of the Sower appears in all three synoptic gospels. Jesus implied it is the key to understanding his other parables. Today, thinking of it as the parable of the four soils might make it easier to grasp. After all, the sower went out to sow seed, and the parable never mentions him again. It doesn’t really say much about the seed, either, except that it’s apparently some kind of grain. But the soils? They’re crucially important.
The three accounts are a little different, but the differences don’t alter the basic points.
A sower went out to sow seed. In those days, that meant taking a bag of seed and throwing it on the ground.… Read the rest
A woman entering her hotel room was shocked to see a naked woman, who appeared to be dead, draped across the bed. Her husband, bending over the corpse, looked up and said, “Dear, before you say anything, I have a question. Are you going to believe what you see, or what I tell you?”
That is exactly the same question God has for each of us. We believe what we see, and that’s the wrong answer.
The healing of the blind man of Bethsaida, one of the few incidents unique to Mark’s gospel, must be the oddest of Jesus’ miracles. It says that when he got to Bethsaida, the townspeople brought a blind man to him and begged him to heal him. Begged? It’s almost as if he seemed unwilling at first.
Then, Jesus took the man by the hand and led him out of town. And at first, the healing seemed not to work. The man could see, but not clearly. Jesus had to try again.
Did Jesus have an “oops” moment? Or did he have a reason for performing a two-step healing?… Read the rest
Jesus encountered a woman in Gentile territory at the end of a particularly hectic time of his life. We know her as the Syrophoenician woman from Mark’s account. Matthew’s account calls her a Canaanite woman. The incidents that finally drove Jesus out of Palestine to are recorded in Matthew beginning with 13:53 and in Mark 6-7.
Jesus taught in the synagogue at Nazareth. The townspeople were offended at his teaching. He could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief. That pairing of offense and unbelief is key to understanding his later two meetings with the Syrophoenician woman.
The story of Noah in the Bible marks a turning point. From creation to Noah, the Bible mostly records only genealogical data: a man’s name, the name of his son, and how long he lived. Some men rate a brief description. Noah’s faith gets three chapters in Genesis. Isaiah and Ezekiel both mention him.
In the New Testament, Jesus mentions Noah a couple of times. He appears in the faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11, where it says that by faith, Noah condemned the world. Peter calls him a “preacher of righteousness.”
Most of us know something of the story of Noah and the ark, but how much attention do we pay to Noah himself?… Read the rest
Was Paul a sports fan? He at least had an active interest in races.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
You’ve read a lot about claiming promises in the Bible. But then you look at many of them and find that God made them to specific individuals for specific purposes.
Are those promises really for you? What can you do with them?
Somehow we don’t have the same curiosity about commandments in the Bible, but at least some of them raise the same questions.
In Joshua 1:6-9, God gave commandments and promises to Joshua. Joshua had long known that he would succeed Moses as Israel’s leader and take them into the Promised Land. Now, Moses had died. It was time for him to step in.… Read the rest
Did the three wise men really visit the manger in Bethlehem on that first Christmas day bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
The town and the gifts are right. At best, the rest of the familiar scene is dubious. Who were the wise men (magi), and what does it matter?
The Bible (Matthew 2:1-12) simply says wise men (it’s plural, so there were at least two) followed a star from the East (a vague enough reference that only rules out other directions). Eventually, they got to Bethlehem, entered “the house,” presented their gifts, and rode out of history.