Matthew’s gospel records six parables in Matthew 13 that start, “the kingdom of heaven is like. . .” Three more gospels of the kingdom appear later in Matthew. In this post, we will look at the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), which starts, “the kingdom of heaven is like a king . . .”
The parable immediately follows Peter’s question about forgiveness. According to typical rabbinic teaching, forgiveness was unnecessary after the third offense. Peter asked if he needed to forgive seven times. In other words, Peter asked if forgiving more than twice as much as other rabbis required is good enough.… Read the rest
The kingdom of heaven is a major theme of Matthew’s gospel, including most of the parables in Matthew 13. The chapter begins with the parable of the sower (or the four soils) and its explanation. All the other parables in the chapter compare the kingdom of heaven to something or someone. Four other chapters include parables that illustrate what the kingdom of heaven is like.
This post will examine the short parables at the end of Matthew 13. He spoke these parables to the disciples alone, not to a crowd.
In our experience, some things are lawful and others illegal. In that regard, 1 Corinthians 6 has a very odd juxtaposition of ideas.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
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.
Someone in my Sunday school class suggested studying the book of Revelation. Someone else immediately vetoed the idea. She didn’t want to spend much time being scared.
Lots of people apparently think Revelation is scary and that therefore they shouldn’t read it. Actually, it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing for anyone who does read it (Revelation 1:3). In fact, the only people who ought to be afraid of it are the scoffers who won’t bother to look at it.
When the book of Revelation is explained, we can face it calmly and hopefully
After Matthew described how Joseph decided to go through with his marriage to apparently unfaithful Mary, he added a comment: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means God with us).”—Matthew 1:22-23 NIV
We might be tempted to think that, of course God is with us. Naturally. God is everywhere. But that’s too hasty. The standard warning in such cases is that we shouldn’t take it for granted. Actually, however, we should take it for granted: God granted us his presence by grace.… Read the rest
Blood stains. No cleaning product advertises that it contains blood. Yet Christians sing of being washed in Jesus’ blood.
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains. — William Cowper
Now there’s a truly unpleasant image. Hardly anything makes me want to wash my hands faster than handling raw meat and getting the blood on them. If sinners are plunged into a fountain of blood, it might cleanse their guilt, but they’ll never get their clothes clean!
To understand the imagery of being washed in the blood of Jesus, we need to consider both the connection between blood and cleansing in the Bible and the role of blood in our own bodies.… Read the rest
Do you ever feel like you pray and pray and God doesn’t listen? It may or may not be true.
Once when I was feeling really down and rudderless, I opened my Bible at random and found Isaiah 1. It contains this passage:
11The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
Many of us often feel invisible, as if no one notices our efforts. Many of us feel invisible to God, too. But as Hagar learned, no one is invisible to God. God’s grace and love extend even beyond his covenant relationships.
Hagar was Sarai’s servant. Or in the most recent English translations, slave. Slavery in ancient times wasn’t quite the unmitigated evil as chattel slavery in the US.
It was more humane among Hebrews than even other contemporary societies. And in modern English, slave and servant have different meanings, even though both words translate the same Hebrew word.
God cares nothing about human notions of social status.… 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