Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lent, Day 22 March 22nd , 2017

Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Jesus' Teachings
The Kingdom, Part 3 
In yesterday's post we began exploring the Kingdom, noting that the meaning of the word is the same in both the Hebrew and Greek languages (i.e., the rule, authority, and dominion of a monarch). We also discussed the reason that we may find it difficult to relate to events or circumstances with which we have no experience. This is where the use of metaphors can be useful via using a known idea to teach an unknown one. Finally, we noted that the word 'like' is often used as a conversation filler. However, Jesus used powerful similes when He used the word "like".  Today we will continue examining the parables, which are a major part of Jesus' main teaching on the Kingdom.

As a travelling evangelist, Jesus' quickly gained recognition. And as His ministry became more known, Christ's reputation grew, and He drew people from afar. The Gospels record the people's reactions to Jesus' teaching style, noting that He taught as One with authority (Mt. 7:29). Furthermore, His fresh teaching style amazed those who heard Him speak (Mk. 1:27).  Many of us assume that Jesus used parables with familiar word-pictures so that even the common people could understand (e.g., a farmer, a baker, or a treasure hunter). So we sometimes deduce that the parables were easily and widely understood by the crowds. Yet there were times when even the disciples didn't comprehend the message Christ was conveying, and they asked Him why He taught the people in parables (Mt. 13:10). When they were apart from the crowds, Jesus would explain the meanings of the parables to the disciples. Furthermore, Jesus made it clear that the disciples would grasp the spiritual truths expressed in these stories, because they were chosen to understand the mysteries of heaven (Mt. 13:11; 16).  Christ also stated that the masses that would not know the real spiritual meanings expressed in the parables (Mt. 13:12-15). Thus, it seems that we may have reached incorrect conclusions about the purposes of the parables; they were actually use so that the people would not understand.
As we explore Jesus' teachings of the Kingdom, we need to ask ourselves if our description matches that of Jesus' explanation. People are quick to criticize each other’s interpretations, but sometimes their responses may exceed the information that is provided in Scripture. For example, I've heard folks discussing--with pride--how they are living in poverty and suffering for Christ; which is at the opposite end of the spectrum from those who believe in health, sufficient wealth, and blessings. I am not here to debate this subject, nor to state where I am on the spectrum, because each of us must decide for ourselves.

However, what can we learn about the Kingdom from Jesus' parables?
 Some parables describe the Kingdom, others point out the nature or characteristics of its members, while a number of them explain how individuals may become part of the Kingdom.  And this is where we will pick up in tomorrow's post.
Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)

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