Blessed… The Parables

NOTE: During these next few days the blogs are going to look a bit different. Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus beginning teaching parables in earnest. In this chapter Jesus tells the parable and then might go into something else, perhaps teach another parable and then comes back to the first to explain it. For the sake of continuity I am going to keep sections together. Today’s readings are the first two verses of the chapter paired with why Jesus taught in parables. When we get back to more sequential passages I will move back to a more standard presentation.

That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore…

 …Jesus’ disciples came and said to him, “Why do you use parables when you speak to the crowds?” Jesus replied, “Because they haven’t received the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but you have. For those who have will receive more and they will have more than enough. But as for those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away from them. This is why I speak to the crowds in parables: although they see, they don’t really see; and although they hear, they don’t really hear or understand.14 What Isaiah prophesied has become completely true for them:

You will hear, to be sure, but never understand; and you will certainly see but never recognize what you are seeingFor this people’s senses have become calloused,  and they’ve become hard of hearing, and they’ve shut their eyes so that they won’t see with their eyes or hear with their ears or understand with their minds, and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them. “Happy are your eyes because they see. Happy are your ears because they hear. I assure you that many prophets and righteous people wanted to see what you see and hear what you hear, but they didn’t (Matthew 13:1-2, 10-17, Common English Bible).

I love Jesus’ parables. Sometimes they can be difficult to understand the point but I really do love them. They are some of my favorite preaching passages. I think that the Beatitudes and the specific parables Jesus tells in Matthew are the biggest reasons why Matthew is my favorite of the Gospels.

In today’s reading, Jesus is telling the reason he taught in parables. At least to my ear this sounds a bit cryptic too. But, what I think Jesus is saying here is, he teaches in parables because only those whose hearts are ready will understand the parables. When a person’s heart is ready, then they will understand.

What that idea says to me is, we have to be at work through prayer, Bible study, worship, giving, service and more to build our hearts to better understanding of what God has for us.

Through prevenient grace, God is already at work in our lives. God builds us up and prepares our hearts and minds to be disciples. As fellow travelers on the way, we in the Church, the people charged with making disciples, are the instruments God uses to open hearts and minds to change lives in the world around us.

How do you allow God to use you to build hearts and minds to understand the parables as well as all the Gospel?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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