Preface to Bible Study Series on the Parables
The Friday Morning Bible Study group recently explored the OT Names of God by which he revealed His nature and heart to mankind. We discovered how Jesus fulfilled all the Names of God before the eyes of mankind as He walked the shores of Galilee. We thoughtfully discussed the miracles of Jesus, and the faith that brings miraculous results works in the present day. We have agreed with various voices that insist these signs and wonders must follow our ministry in order for the present age to be convinced of the saving power of the Christ. We have berated ourselves unnecessarily for lack of faith until realization began to dawn that Christ in us must perform the miraculous. As our confidence, faith and obedience grows, we are learning more and more how to follow the voice of “Christ in Us” as He leads us to carry out His Will, and His Will only. This is true servanthood. This is doing the works of Him who sends us. This is being able to truly proclaim –“Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, in earth as it is in Heaven.”
Throughout Jesus’s ministry on earth, he was teaching His mission by the miracles He performed. He healed the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds. He made the blind to see, the deaf to hear and he cleansed the lepers. He fed the hungry. He delivered those possessed by demons. He said to his followers, “Greater works than these shall ye do because I go to my Father.” Clearly His Great Commission completed the picture of His Kingdom on Earth. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Throughout his three and one-half years of earthly ministry, he was also teaching the secrets of the Kingdom that had been hidden from the foundation of the world. He extensively used parables as his means of teaching. Parables are usually stories out of ordinary life used to illustrate spiritual or moral truth. A parable can be a comparison or an illustration. Jesus spoke in parables because of the spiritual dullness of the people and in direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies concerning him. From the notes of Concordia NIV Study Bible (page 1562), the writer provided these points:
1) Parables were particularly effective and easy to remember because He used familiar scenes from daily life.
2) Parables clarified the teachings of Jesus
3) Parables include hidden meanings needing further explanation.
4) Parables challenged those seriously interested.
5) Parables taught truths Jesus wanted to conceal from unbelievers.
Psalms 78 was written by the pen of Asaph perhaps about the time of the prophet Hosea. Included in the Psalms of David, the prophetic voice speaks, “Oh my people, hear my teaching, listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—(NIV)
When the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to the people in parables? He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of Heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables; “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Personally, I am convinced there are truths in the parables that must be understood and incorporated into our lives through faith and obedience before we can expect the spiritual manifestations intended by God for the end time church. Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
God has always been precise and exact about His instructions concerning the lives of his chosen people. Because we have come into the Body of Christ through faith and have received the incredible gift of God’s grace, does not mean we can be self-centered, disobedient to His teachings, spiritually unfruitful and not fall into the same category Christ describes as “a people whose hearts have become calloused; blinded and dull of hearing.”
It would behoove each of us to revisit the parables, asking the question, “What do I need to see, hear and understand in this teaching?” Jesus said our healing depends upon seeing, hearing and understanding with our hearts. Matt 13:15. Being healed encompasses spiritual, physical, mental, emotional wholeness. (See Matt 4:23, Matt 12:28, Matt 16:19)
The Kingdom of God within us, His will be done within us as it is in Heaven, most certainly glorifies the Christ indwelling us, the mystery hid from the foundation of the world. There is no sin, no sickness, pain nor death in Heaven. With Christ in Heavenly places positions us at the right hand of the Father. (See Roman14:17, Luke 17:21, Col 1:25, John 3:3)
Oh, to live the Kingdom of God life!! As we seek to more fully comprehend “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done,” we will be focusing on the instructions and hidden wisdom of the Kingdom of God contained in the parables. As we are guided by this wisdom, it is our prayer that the Living Word will dwell in us richly. Col 3:16
Three questions to explore as we study
1) What was the message of Kingdom to Jesus’ listeners?
2) How does it bring Kingdom of God reality? (Show us the Father’s heart)
3) What is the personal message to me as one born into the Kingdom?
Outline - Parable of the Sower and the Seed
I. Farmer goes out to sow seed. He randomly scatters the seed
II. Some fell along the path
a. Birds came and ate it up/evil one snatches it away
III. Some fell on rocky places with shallow soil
a. Sprang up quickly/receives word with joy
b. Sun comes up and scorches/trouble and persecution come
c. Withers because roots were shallow and dried out/no depth to survive
IV. Some fell among thorns, competing for nutrients, moisture and sun.
a. Grew up
b. Choked for sustenance/ Cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and lust (love) for other things
1) Anxiety, worries of this life, Immature/misplaced faith
2) Wealth or lack thereof
3) Other things – pleasures of this life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life. (Not necessarily sin but competing interests). Lust of our flesh can lead to sin, sin when it is finished leads to death!
V. Good Ground
a. Hear (really hear!) the Word
b. Receive it (understand and obey it)
c. Are healed
d. Bring forth fruit (Discuss fruitfulness i.e. fig tree)
1. Fruit of the spirit
2. Spiritual fruit contains the seed for new plants
3. 30/60/100 Fold
This parable was chosen for the first in the series because it lays the groundwork for many of the other parables. The farmer represents Christ. The seed is the Word of God. The soil represents the hearts of the hearers of the Word. As followers of Christ we are commissioned to sow the seed as well. On the other hand, our hearts are also where the seed has been sown and is actively growing. To have an honest and good heart or good soil is necessary for the living Word to bring forth fruit to perfection. Any of us can allow our hearts to be hardened and become stony ground or can allow the growing Word in our hearts to be choked out by the thorns and weeds. Weeds and briars, represented by competing interests and distractions of this life, can easily overtake the growth of the Word. For instance, the language of faith can easily be displaced by the language of doubt. Weeds of selfishness can smother love and long-suffering. Weeds of discontent can choke peace and joy. Weeds of malice can destroy goodness and gentleness, Weeds of pride and arrogance may suffocate meekness. Weeds of excess choke temperance.
Do weeds flourish in good soil? You bet they do – ever since the Garden of Eden. We must work hard to pull them out by the roots. We must maintain the proper balance of the Word in our lives or the cares, anxieties, busyness, worry, pursuit of money, love of pleasure, seeking after worldly things, etc., will stunt our spiritual growth and we will bring forth no mature fruit. We must constantly tend the garden of our hearts!