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
God commanded Ezekiel to pose a riddle and speak a parable to his people, which comprises Ezekiel 17. At the time, it was a commentary on current events. For us, it’s ancient history. Many people these days have trouble grasping why ancient history matters today. In fact, the difference between Ezekiel’s time and ours is no more than window dressing. Today’s societies all exhibit the same sins as his.
The parable concerns two eagles and a vine, which all behave like humans in both their glory and shame. We don’t have to guess what it means for ancient Israel. The chapter explains the allegory in detail.… 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.
What is the unforgivable sin? It doesn’t take thorough Bible knowledge to come up with the answer “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
Google “unforgivable sin” and you will find various explanations. They stick close to the original context and don’t compare it with other scriptures. Most of them reassure people that if they fear they have committed it, it’s a good sign they haven’t. If anyone wants God’s forgiveness, it means they have enough regard for the Holy Spirit to desire fellowship with God.
But I have been teaching my Sunday school class about the Lord’s prayer. It contains the petition, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 ESV)—the only petition in the prayer with a built-in condition.… Read the rest
In Jesus, God came into the world as a baby. Who doesn’t like babies? Even the non-Christian world likes Jesus the baby. The modern church always seems comfortable with Jesus the baby, Jesus the kind man who was nice to children, Jesus the storyteller, even Jesus the corpse taken down from the cross.
But Jesus’ birth as a baby was the beginning of God’s sneak attack against sin, evil, the devil, and death itself. The supernatural Jesus makes everyone uncomfortable, even the church, even his closest friends.
According to Matthew 6:33, “Seek first kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [material needs] will be added to you.” Simple enough in principle, but just what is this kingdom, and what does it mean to seek it first? Jesus explained the kingdom in a number of parables.
Matthew 13 contains several parables Jesus used to teach about the kingdom of heaven. He preached some of them to crowds, probably several times each. He taught some to his disciples privately. Matthew has placed them in a logical order. The three of them in Matthew 13:24-43 have undertones of trouble in the kingdom as we experience it on earth.… Read the rest
When Jesus told a parable, the story concerned familiar situations of his time. Sometimes we must translate it from his culture to ours. Other times we can find its familiarity downright embarrassing. Such is the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21).
A farmer has produced such an abundance of crops that his success has outgrown his barns. He decides to tear them down and have bigger ones built in their place. With careful planning and sharp business practices, he should never have to work again, and he intends to relax and enjoy what he has provided for himself.
44The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:44-46
These three verses comprise two different parables, but neither can stand without the other. The first says the kingdom of God is like a treasure, the second that it is like a merchant.… Read the rest