The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Jesus said, “Likewise, you should always be prepared, because you do not know when the Son of Man will come” (Eyewitness Matthew 25:13).

Eyewitness: p. 212
In your Bible: Matthew 25:1-13

At Jewish weddings in biblical times, the bridegroom drew the attention. Jesus pointed to his appearance as the striking moment and reason for joy in this parable. For the western mindset, this parable can be difficult to understand. However, if we view it from the Jewish mindset in the village setting, it becomes clearer. Bible scholars help put this into perspective for us too.**

PERSPECTIVE

1. The wait for the bridegroom goes on for days and nights – many get tired waiting.
2. Prior to the bridegroom appearing (usually during the night), no one is allowed in the street without a lighted lamp.
3. When the bridegroom approaches, someone goes ahead of him shouting: “Behold! The bridegroom is coming!”
4. Once the bridegroom enters the wedding tent is closed, no one else may enter.

When we understand the customs in this parable, we can more readily grasp its meaning. The wedding celebration represents the end times, when Jesus returns for his bride.

C O N C E P T

* The wedding feast – celebration of Jesus’ return is a certainty to come.
* The announcement has already been made by prophets.
* Many believe in Jesus the Christ and many do not!
* Once Jesus returns, the door of acceptance will be closed for Gentiles.
* Your oil of salvation is all you need…..be prepared.

Application: No one but God knows when the bridegroom will return. Believers must be ready and prepared. No one can borrow or purchase a relationship with God. A believer must have it personally.

Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding us to be wise, be prepared, and be ready for the joy of Jesus’ return. Glory.

** Matthew Henry Commentary in One Volume, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zonderdan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960, pp. 1332-1332.
and
The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of Matthew Vol 2 Revised Edition, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 318-321.

Kingdom of Heaven Parables

“If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying” (Eyewitness Matthew 13:9).

Eyewitness: pp. 86-88
In Your Bible: Matthew 13:24-52

The Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew Chapter 13 is a treasure trove of parables. There are at least 7 after the Parable of the Sower/Seed/Soil. In this chapter, Jesus mentions the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God 9 times. Yes, Jesus got the crowd’s attention. What is the Kingdom like? Listen to Jesus’ words and receive what he said.

Jesus taught as much as the crowds could understand. He wanted his followers to know what the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God entailed. It’s not merely a location, a body of believers, or a view of what will happen. It is Kingdom living for the Lord God Almighty. It is right living, right purpose, right attitude, and right perspective……on what God wants.

More Parables in Matthew 13

1. Jesus tells us that we are not to judge who believes in God…..His angels will separate out those who truly believe. Two parables – the Tares vv 24-30 and the Fishing Net vv 47-50.

* C O N C E P T * Spread the Word, cast the seed, some will accept it and some will reject it. We must keep sowing the gospel message. Do not be discouraged in this assignment when some refuse to accept the good news. God will sort out who really believes at the end time.

2. Salvation through God’s gift of Jesus Christ is a priceless commodity, bringing great joy and peace. Two parables – the Hidden treasure v 44 and the Costly pearl vv 45,46.

* C O N C E P T * A believer must commit everything he has to the Lord and even risk all ………….salvation is that valuable.

3. Salvation through Jesus initiates a transformation process greater than the believer can even begin to understand. Two parables – the Mustard seed vv 31,32 and Leaven v 33.

* C O N C E P T * The church triumphant, starts small but will become very big. That same concept of transformation and growth applies to our own faith.

Now, consider picking a parable from Matthew 13 to read out loud – slowly. Hearing the message in this manner will give the added impact Jesus intended and reveal the way He wants us to hear it.

At the end of this chapter, Jesus asked his disciples and those close to him, “Are you starting to get a handle on this” (The Message Matthew 13:51)? They actually responded “Yes” to his question. So should we!

Application:: Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. These insights and concepts are mine alone. Some parables are difficult to grasp and others straight forward. But Jesus’ words remain clear: Let us have “ears to hear” and take it fully to heart.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ with such a powerful teaching on Your Kingdom. Help us grasp all He taught.

A Parable About Hearing God’s Word

“If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying” (Eyewitness Matthew 13:9).

Eyewitness: pp. 84,85
In Your Bible: Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15

The Parable of the Sower/Seed/Soil

Jesus sat in a boat just off shore at the Sea of Galilee. He told a parable about a farmer as he spoke to the huge crowd and his disciples who had gathered there. A parable, we understand, is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This parable, found in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), is familiar to most church goers.

Jesus goes to great lengths to describe sowing seed in a field and showed the difficulty of seed germination in different types of soil. He emphasized the importance of fertile soil for a good crop yield. This teaching, however, confused even the closest to Jesus. Later he explained it concisely for them. This explanation enhances our own understanding for most of Jesus’ parables.

Jesus Gives Insight and Encouragement

The disciples and other followers asked why he was speaking in parables. Jesus responded, “I have given you insights into the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have [receive} only the stories. Those who have a desire to hear will be given an abundance of knowledge, but those who dislike the truth will lose what little understanding they have” (Eyewitness Mark 4:10,11).

As William Temple, the renowned British Bible teacher and preacher said, “Jesus taught men to see the operation of God in the regular and the normal – in the rising of the sun and the falling of the rain and the growth of the plant.” **

7 Facts About Parables

1. Parables are meant to be heard, rather than read
2. Parables produce an immediate impression and reaction
3. In a parable, one idea jumps out and shines like a bolt of lightning
4. Parables are used to make people listen
5. Parables are not allegories
6. Rabbis used parables and Jews were accustomed to this type of teaching
7. There are seven parables in the Old Testament

In the next few weeks/blogs, we’ll look at a variety of parables and seek understanding and insight for us today. Let’s dig into the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Application: Jesus gave his inner circle insight they needed for encouragement to continue. Today, believers need to rely on the Holy Spirit to help grasp Jesus’ teachings and attain what God wants us to hear.

Prayer: Father, thank you for wanting believers to understand what you say. We want to hear and obey you.

** From: William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study, The Gospel of Mark, Westminster Press, Philadelphia. 1953, 1956, pp. 89,90.

The Father Shows – Jesus Does

“Whatever the Father does, the Son will do likewise, because the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does” (Eyewitness John 5:19,20).

Eyewitness: p.99
In Your Bible: John 5:17-24

Healing a lame man in Jerusalem at the pool called Bethesda, brought Jesus trouble again – because he did it on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders claimed Jesus did work which was not allowed by Law on this holy day. They were sure this time they has a valid reason to persecute Jesus.

Jesus reasoned with the leaders, but the spiritual level he presented was beyond their understanding. Jesus said, “My Father has always been at work doing good, and I must do the same” (Eyewitness John 5:17). His intent was to tell religious leaders of “why” instead their focus was on “when.” It inflamed their anger.

THE FATHER SHOWS JESUS EVERYTHING

Now they had Jesus in another offense, he called God his Father inferring he was equal with God. In defense, Jesus said, “I assure you that the Son can do nothing by his own initiative but will only do what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, because the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does” (Eyewitness John 5:19,20).

What a joy for Jesus to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs each time the Father shows him to do something. The Father shows – Son does. It’s not merely for mankind to get the blessing or healing, but for God to get the honor and glory through Jesus.

Believers, receive Jesus’ encouraging words: “Listen. Those who hear what I am saying and believe on him who sent me will have eternal life. They will avoid condemnation, passing from death to life” (Eyewitness John 5:24). If we think this is only applies to those who heard Jesus speak when he was on earth, John the Apostle clarifies it in his Gospel: The Holy Spirit is given to believers to help them remember everything Jesus said.

WHY BELIEVERS MUST HONOR JESUS

Be sure to hear what Jesus has to say. Showing honor due the Son of God, reveals believers are honoring the Father too. This was a additional mountain sized stumbling block for the Jewish leaders. It should not be a stumbling block for believers today, but instead a wonderful opportunity embedded in every breath we take. Glory!

Application: Jesus admits he does only what his Father shows him to do – an amazing revelation. We should not take any of Jesus’ words lightly. No, we must meditate on them and let them sink in to our spirit. They should “direct our path” as the psalmist says.

Prayer: Father, I want to know/hear all that You are saying and doing.

EARNESTLY PRAY FOR THE NATION

ID-100102806Merely six months after National Day of Prayer for the USA, believers see an even greater need for prayer. The nation’s embattled Senate, House of Representatives, and Executive Branch failed to negotiate sensibly on legislation that would seriously shape the economy and effect all Americans in the immediate future.

Pride, Power, Politics, and Pettiness seem to rule rather than humility, honor, and helping find common ground. My attempt this week is to show God’s perspective and not the perspective mankind seems to seek first.

GOD’S WARNING AGAINST DISOBEDIENCE

A key Scripture helps believers when this confusion arises and no seemingly good outcome is possible. Solomon prayed to God for an answer on how his land/nation could be healed in a time of crisis. Eugene Peterson communicates God’s response profoundly: “…..My people, My God-defined people, [must] respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking My presence, and [then] turning their backs on their wicked lives, [yes] I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health” (The Message 2 Chronicles 7:14).

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

The believer’s obligation remains:
* Pray
* Seek what God wants (even though it may not be what we want)
* Be strong
* Be courageous yet humble

Application: When troubled times arise, and they will, God knows and wants us on our knees seeking – His best solution. Prayer, listening to God, and seeking Him are active processes – not passive ones. Join in – pray earnestly.

Photo of flag courtesy of Michael Elliot at freedigitalphotos.net