Parables for Inside and Out – Matthew 13

mustardseed

The first part of this post is kind of nerdy….the second raises a question.

The text notes that Jesus spoke from a boat in Matthew 13:1 and then it notes he moves inside in 13:36 where he gave an explanation for the Parable of the Weeds.  This makes me wonder if the parables in the first part were all outside and if  those in the second part were all inside.  The outside parables then would be for a larger, general audience and those on the inside would be for the disciples. Matthew, as we have seen, is more interested in topics than chronology, so we have to be careful here.

There is also a pattern to each half – 4 parables, in each case there are paired parables (mustard/yeast and treasure/pearl), in each there is an explanation, though this is longer int he first half, and both halves refer to the sorting out process at judgment (wheat/weeds and good fish/bad fish.)

Outside (from the boat v. 1-35)

  • Sower (responses to the word of God)
  • (reason for parables/Sower explained)
  • Weeds
  • Mustard
  • Yeast

Inside (v.36-52)

  • (Weeds Explained – sorting out)
  • Hidden Treasure
  • Pearl
  • Net (sorting)
  • Owner of House

Hometown (53-58)

  • Consequence of lack of faith (bad soil, not selling all for treasure/pearl)

Other Links

In the Inside section:

  • first and fourth parables are linked by the idea of treasure (Gk thesauros)
  • second and third parables are linked by the word “good” (Gk kalos – good pearls and good fish)

Implication:  I have always thought of the hidden treasure and pearl of great price parables as expressing the initial joy of encountering the message of the Kingdom.  But since these are placed by Matthew in the INSIDE section of the chapter, should we read them more as parables about following Jesus, rather than parables of the first encounter.  So they call us to sell out totally to Jesus and his message.

Back to Nerdsville – I am kind of grooving out on v. 52, where the scholar who receives the kingdom can bring out the treasure of Old and New.  Note that there is nothing bad said about the OLD.  but that the treasury contains both, and the scholar/homeowner takes joy in both!

Doesn’t ” Good Fish,Bad Fish” sound like a Dr. Seuss title?

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Parable of the Sower – a worksheet on Jesus’ Gospel

seeds

 

To follow up the previous post, I have made a worksheet from Matthew on what the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom might mean.  It seems to me best to define the term from Matthew’s context first and then broaden the search.

 

What is the Message

 

Parable of the Sower – a Fresh Read

seeds

 

I am trying to think about Matthew 13:1-23 with a fresh read perspective – that is to try to read it for what it syas, not for what people say it says.

So here are a few questions.

  • What exactly is the seed?
    •  Is what Jesus has been teaching and preaching?
    • Is it the “deposit” mentioned in the NT letters?
  • Can the seed/message be tweaked or changed for the soil/audience
    • That seems to happen in the sermons in Acts.
  • What exactly is the act of sowing?
  • Is there any strategy to sowing?
    • It looks to be non strategic in the parable – the farmer sows everywhere.
  • What exactly are the soils?
    • Kinds of people by sociological category?
    • or by Spiritual openness?
  • What is the secret?
  • Why don’t some see/hear/believe when others do?
  • Are there more actions than sowing and receiving?
  • Does the soil have a choice in its condition?

 

There seems to be a structure

A – Parable of Sower v. 1-9

B – Why Parables? v. 10

B’ – Why Parables. v. 11-17

A’ – Parable of Sower. v. 18-23

Sticks & Soil – Making Connections

walking stickIn the last two days I was able to speak to a group of ex-offenders and to a group of kids at church at an awards banquet.

I took a walking stick to the first group.  this was carved in a piece of curly willow that I had harvested from my front yard. It is a joke that I walk a little on the slow side – mainly because I am looking at things – gardens, trees, birds, bumper stickers.  So I put on there a tortoise and a hare.  The verse is from Ecclesiastes 9:11

The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

The point is that we can not expect to rush, rabbit like, to the finish line, but it will take some time.  This lead to several interesting conversations about wood carving.  It was a nice way for folks to connect.

At the awards banquet the decorations were pots and seeds.   I talked about what was needed besides the pots and seed packets. The Kids figured out we needed good soil – not the sand and rock salt I had first suggested.  The point here was that we need to be receptive soil to the scriptures – as Jesus taught int he parable of the sower. (Mark 4)

So in these examples a stick and some dirt became ways to connect.  We all do things that help us connect to the scriptures – areas of interest in our lives that connect to specific scriptures.  Walking Sticks and Ecclesiastes 9 or Psalm 1.  Gardening and a number of parables of Jesus and Isaiah 55.

Think about what connects with you? What do you know that helps others make connections?

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