Parables of Jesus – notes from the DVD

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Here are my notes from the Parables of Jesus DVD. Some were directly transcribed from the narration.

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The Good Samaritan – Luke 10

A certain man had to make a journey from Jerusalem to Jericho

  • There was only one way – thru the wilderness.
  • Jericho was the lowest place on earth, deep in the Dead Sea
  • The way was a dangerous path, frequented by robbers

1st person – Priest

  • Man had no identification and looked dead – touching would make him unclean

2nd person – Levite

  • Man was possible a sinner and this was his punishment

3rd person – Samaritan

  • Eating the bread of a Samaritan was like eating the food of pigs

It must have seemed like an insult for an expert of the law of Moses to be told to follow the example of a Samaritan. Of course this story could be told using different races and beliefs.

Will I show the love of God in my actions or not? There’s another twist to the story.

Who is the object of my love? = Who is my neighbor?

Jesus turned the question on its head, for the story is not about who is qualified to receive love, but who is capable of giving love.

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18

(Forgiveness – not just 7 times, but 70 times 7)

Servant owed 10,000 (16 Million times the daily wage = more than what an entire province could afford). He was a corrupt official. The King canceled the entire debt. An act of mercy beyond believe; a royal pardon. The King had the power to punish and the power to forgive. He had chosen to forgive.

Servant had a fellow servant who owed him about 3 months wages. Servant sent the man who owed him to prison.

Servants of the King struggled to tell what happened because they might insult the King because it may seem that he had done the wrong thing. The king’s act of mercy had been intended to be an example of compassion, but the man who had been forgiven looked at it at a sign of weakness.

My heavenly Father will do the same to you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart (Matthew 6). God is not just interested in seeing us beg for mercy, He wants us to change. And if we’re not ready to do that, there is no forgiveness from God. So what should we do. First, we should ask God for forgiveness which we genuinely need, then we should be ready to give genuine forgiveness to other people.

Repentance should lead to a generous and forgiving attitude towards other people.

The Treasure and the Pearl

Matthew 13

Many centuries ago, many people were taken as prisoners, and so a rich man would bury his treasure in a piece of land, hoping to return to it later.

Many years later, a field worker found the treasure, but he knew that legally, the treasure belonged to whoever owned the land.

Only 1 choice: to buy the land. Sell everything he owned to buy the field. The land was his and legally, so was the treasure. Now people would know why he literally sold everything just to buy the piece of land.

Jesus made a point: Some things are just so important their value outweighs everything else.

PEARL

There was a merchant who buys pearls for a living. He has traveled the world and has built a network of contacts in conducting his business.

Gold was easy to find because there were a lot of craftsmen who could make fine gold jewelry, but a truly magnificent pearl was much harder to find.

The merchant has been trading pearls and it was his life’s dream to find the perfect pearl – a pearl whose value was more than anything he had ever seen before.

Merchant found a pearl that was the most precious in the whole world, but the price was beyond anything he had ever encountered. It would cost him all he had. He knew the value of his things but he also knew the value of the pearl, and he knew it was worth it. And he was glad to sell everything he had because he knew it worth everything he had and more.

Jesus said that the buried treasure and the pearl was like the kingdom of heaven – it was beyond comparison and is worth everything we have, and more. On one aspect, the farmer and the merchant cost them all they had to get that which is what they want, and they were glad to do it.

More than anything else, it was the sovereign rule of God, both now and in the future, in this life and in the life to come. For the person who is a follower of Jesus Christ, the sheer joy of being in the will of God and experiencing the control of God is far more important than anything else. After all, what’s the alternative? As Jesus said, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?

The Midnight Visitor

Some of the stories told by Jesus Christ were about everyday life as he had seen it happen, and he used these happenings to illustrate our relationship with God. But not always. Sometimes, they were the very opposite.

Luke 11

The village was the kind of place were nothing much appeared to happen. But one day something unusual happened: a friend arrived unexpectedly one midnight, and for him to have arrived safely so late was something to thank God for. The rules of hospitality demanded that he be treated with great respect. It didn’t matter that it was midnight; first the guest must have his feet washed. Indeed, the proper treatment of a visitor was a matter of honor not only for the family but for the whole village.

But since the host did not have any bread left, he knocked on a neighbor’s house to ask for some bread, and though the neighbor was reluctant to get up at first, because of his persistence, the neighbor gave hi bread. Thus, the guest was fed and well-taken cared of, and the village was able to save its reputation as a place of hospitality.

Does using the word “love” so casually make it somehow not seem so precious and pure? Does using love for common things like food or fashion make it less pure and holy?

Jesus finished his story with saying, “Keep on asking, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

For some people God is like the neighbor in the story: He will help us out, but only after a lot of ‘s persuading and is very inconvenient. Think about this: what was the neighbor’s motive: was it out of friendship, or was it a sense of duty? Perhaps the fear of losing face in the community? Jesus was saying, “Do you really think God is like this? Of course not! God does not give grudgingly, but generously, because God is good, all the time.”

The Dinner

Luke 14 – Middle eastern stories talk about honor and generosity

A certain man held a dinner and invited many people. Preparation was done many days before the meal. A servant was sent out to remind the guests it was time to come. It was the custom to hang a piece of cloth outside the house. While the cloth was there, it means that the guests who were invited were welcome. After it was removed, the door would be closed.

The first guest the servant spoke to said he bought a land and was going to take a look at it and so he asked to be excused from the banquet. Strange, for surely the man would have already looked at it before he bought it.

The next guest also made excuses – he said he just bought oxen and he said he was going to test them. This could not be true! Nobody buys cattle without first inspecting them!

The next guest did not even apologize, he just made a statement. “I have married a wife, therefore, I cannot come.” Did he not know he would be married by this day?

Gradually it became clear. It was a deliberate insult to the generosity of the master – the whole community had rejected him.

The master was very upset, but he must show the true meaning of hospitality. He asked his servant to go out again to invite the lame, the blind, the poor – people who would be thankful to have a place of honor in the banquet. The servant was asked to come out a second time. Some people might not believe the good news immediately but they knew what it would mean.

By accepting his invitation they would associate themselves with the name of the man who provided the dinner and from now on they were on his side and they were expected to be loyal. The master not ask them to bring gifts, but they could not change the date; they were to come as they were, right away.

So the dinner was not canceled and the people who ate the food were people who appreciated it and were glad to have it. But for the men who were invited first, there was no second chance.

Jesus invited people into the kingdom of God but the Pharisees just criticized him. Mostly it was people who knew they were sinners and needed him who became his disciples.

Jesus wanted all kinds of people to know him, but some of the rich were so involved with their businesses and pleasures that they failed to respond to the invitation – and so very foolishly, they excluded themselves from the kingdom of God. While some who were strictly religious preferred to criticize him for accepting and welcoming those they call sinners. It didn’t have to be like that. God is generous! The invitation to be in His kingdom is for everyone. The meal is served. But God will not force us, we can say “Yes”, or we can refuse the invitation and miss the party. Today is the day of invitation. Tomorrow? Who can say?

The Manager

Luke 16 – The manager who lost his job

During the time of Jesus, the olive trees in Judea produced abundant olive oil. But the farmers faced a problem: crop of olives could not be sold and turned into cash until after the harvest. And in the meantime there were bills to be paid.

The story was about a manager whose business it was to lend the farmers money. He was employed by a rich man who wanted to lend money and make a profit by doing so. But the law of Moses would not allow them to take interest from a loan for a fellow Jew, so the farmer had to sign a note promising a share of the harvest to the lender equal to the principal plus interest. It was not quite respectable, and that’s why the rich man employed a manager who would take care of the contracts.

But today he was angry. He found out that the manager had mishandled his money and so he fired him. The manager faced a hopeless situation. He was old and not strong enough to work as a laborer, and with his situation nobody would employ him again as manager. He was too proud to beg, so somehow, he must find a way out.

He still had a few hours that he had control of the business so he had to act quickly. He could not rob his master, but he could make some changes that would be perfectly legal before he turned the accounts in. The answer was so simple and so obvious, he must ask quietly and quickly.

He sent for the farmers one by one. The olive grower came first. The manager asked him to change the amount due from 100 to 50 – it was a free loan! The interest had been removed! The olive grower was so grateful to the manager and would be willing to do anything to show his appreciation to the manager.

The wheat farmer also had his loan changed from 100 to 80 – all for the benefit of the farmer. The loan still had to be repayed on time, but with no interest. Both of the farmers were now in debt to the manager, and he would always be welcome to eat dinner at both their homes.

And so it went on. By the end of the day, there were a lot of very happy customers and one very popular manager. What could the master do? The law of Moses said no interest at all. The manager did his dirty work for him charging high interest rates. But the master himself told the manager to put the accounts in order and that was precisely what he did – not in the way the master expected but according to the law of Moses. Now the whole community was singing praises to the man who charged no interest calling him a true son of Abraham. The master may not like what the manager had done but he could only admire his quick thinking.

The master only got what he deserved and the manager made many new useful friends. Very clever. The disciples were still chuckling when Jesus turned it on them. Men of the world were more clever. Make friends for yourself with worldly wealth, so that when it is gone, you will be received in heaven.

Jesus does not comment on the ethics of the master or his manager. They were men of the world. He says nothing about the rights and wrongs of charging interest. What he does say is this. The manager was clever. He lost his job, but for a limited time he had control of a lot of money. So he used it to buy himself friends.

Now we are here on earth for a limited time with a limited amount of wealth, and so we should also use it wisely. Our opportunity to do good on this earth is very short, but we can use what we have to be a blessing to other people. In the future, that blessing would come back to us. Obeying God and doing what we can to help others is beyond value. Well that’s obvious. And yet some of us seem to be ignoring this fact. If we behaved in business what we behave towards God, some of us may be bankrupt tomorrow morning.

Some of Jesus’ stories are disturbing and that is what Jesus intended. How do we respond to them will determine what we will become.

Prayer for sending off with the Armor of God

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Dear Kuya Jun and Ate Shee,

We thank the Lord for God’s goodness which He has shown you all these years and for how much you both have blessed our hearts and shown us God’s love is indeed alive and true. As you embark on this new journey, we want to send you armed with the armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm and “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10), “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)

As you fasten the belt of truth around you, may the “Spirit of truth guide you into all the truth;” (John 16:13), “the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.” (Isaiah 11:2) May the Lord “Sanctify you by the truth; for His Word is truth” (John 17:17).

As you put on the breastplate of the “righteousness that is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22), may your “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10).

May you bring the gospel of peace wherever you may go, for it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15). As “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20) compelled by the love of God who has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation through Christ, may your “message and preaching not be filled with wise and persuasive words, but may it be a demonstration of the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4).

As you take up your shield of faith, may you always “walk in faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). May your eyes always be “fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). May you be rich in good works prompted by love and abound in generous deeds, that your faith be made complete (James 2:22).

As you wear the helmet of salvation, may you have “eyes to see and ears to hear all the wondrous things that God has prepared for you that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). May you be transformed from glory to glory by the “renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). And we pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

As you take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, may “this Book of the Law not depart from your mouth, but meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.“(Joshua 1:8).

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 5:24-26 )

In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.