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
Simply saying Thomas could mean millions of people, but everyone knows who Doubting Thomas is. Generations of preachers have heaped abuse on him. But maybe Doubting Thomas isn’t the best way to describe him. And it certainly shouldn’t make him seem in any way more doubtful than the other apostles.
Let’s take a closer look to gain a more accurate picture of the man.
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 book of Judges describes Israel’s downward spiral as they fell into sin and cried out for help multiple times. Each time, God sent a rescuer, and each one was less godly than the one before.
Samson, the last of the series, had superhuman strength and worse judgment than any of the others. His father Manoah and his unnamed mother gave him unparalleled spiritual advantages. He squandered his advantage and disappointed his father and mother. Samson’s parents surely count among the spiritual giants of the Old Testament.
Like many Old Testament stories, Samson’s was passed down orally for generations before anyone wrote it down.… Read the rest
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
Someone left an interesting comment on an earlier post:
If we cannot lose our salvation why then did Paul say Walk out your salvation with fear and trembling.
And why did he say I pummel my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be cast away
It’s in reply to an earlier comment that claims it’s impossible to lose salvation once saved. Numerous Bible verses seem to point in that direction. Numerous other Bible verses seem to say that it’s possible, once saved, to lose salvation. Theologians have been arguing about it for centuries.… 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 writer of Hebrews devotes much of the 11th chapter to illustrating heroes of the faith from Abel to Joshua. Then, in verse 32, he writes, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets” (NIV). Jephthah is best known for apparently offering a human sacrifice. Where’s the faith?
It’s interesting, by the way, that the writer doesn’t mention the four men from Judges in chronological order, but in their order of importance. The other judges (before Samuel) rate only brief mentions even there.… Read the rest
Rahab the harlot, or prostitute, dominates Joshua 2. Such a woman would hardly seem worth mentioning. Indeed, the whole story hardly seems necessary to the overall plot of the book.
Jump directly from the end of chapter 1 to the beginning of chapter 3. Then continue reading the rest of the book, skipping some verses in chapter 6. Doesn’t the narrative make perfect sense without Rahab?
If she doesn’t matter to the narrative of Joshua, she matters a great deal in the narrative of grace. For one thing, the outcome of her story fulfills the blessing of Abraham that in him all nations would be blessed.… Read the rest