Preparing good soil

In the chapters and verses leading up to today’s Gospel, opposition is growing, pushing back against Jesus and his ministry. Some do not like that he has cured people on the Sabbath or that Jesus emphasizes mercy and compassion over rules and regulations. Things get pretty rancorous; some go as far as to accuse Jesus of being in league with Satan. Other just keep asking for another miracle, another sign. And yet others believe. Through all of this, Jesus keeps sowing the seeds of faith. Continue reading

From mystery to Truth

The Purpose of the Parables. Verses 10-17 are formally an interlude between the first parable and its explanation, but they are essential to the understanding of the chapter as a whole, as they set out the division between the enlightened disciples and the unresponsive crowd which is the focus both of the structure of the chapter and of much of its contents.

Unlike the telling of the parable, this is a private conversation between Jesus and the disciples who have initiated the conversation with the direct question: Why do you speak to them in parables? One presumes that the disciples have noticed that some of the listeners are perplexed and do not understand. – so why use this cryptic form of teaching rather than plain statement? Continue reading

Will they produce fruit?

Commentary. Matthew 13 is a “day of parables.” The parable of the sower is spoken in public to great crowds (vv. 1–3), but its explanation and the teaching about parables are spoken only to the disciples (vv. 10–11). More parables are then spoken to ‘the crowds’ (v. 34), but the crowds are again left behind (v. 36), and the second explanation and further parables are spoken to the disciples in ‘the house’ (which Jesus had left in v. 1). The unresponsive crowds are thus clearly distinguished from the disciples to whom alone explanation is given, and this distinction is spelt out in vv. 11–17. Continue reading

A sower went out to sow…

Matthew 13:1–23 1 On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.3 And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.5 Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.8 But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.9 Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Continue reading

Can I get an “Amen?”

isaiah55As you probably know, this summer we have been taking a look at the people, events and issues of the Protestant Reformations of the 16th century. Among the Reformers there was a far greater emphasis placed on Scripture and preaching the Word. John Calvin’s typical Sunday homily seems to have been about 2 hours. John Knox’s homilies often had intermissions. Hard to imagine, heh? But it was a different era – not just because Sunday was dedicated to church, worship, and little else – but because for that generation of people, Scripture was coming alive for the first time. When the Zurich reformer Zwingli first began to preach he started at the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew. Sunday after Sunday he worked his way through the whole Gospel, proclaiming, teaching, cajoling, and encouraging people to embrace and be embraced by God. The Word of God set people ablaze. Continue reading

Speaking in parables

parable_SowerThe Purpose of the Parables. Verses 10-17 are formally an interlude between the first parable and its explanation, but they are essential to the understanding of the chapter as a whole, as they set out the division between the enlightened disciples and the unresponsive crowd which is the focus both of the structure of the chapter and of much of its contents. Continue reading

What did they hear?

parable_SowerCommentary. Matthew 13 is a “day of parables.” The parable of the sower is spoken in public to great crowds (vv. 1–3), but its explanation and the teaching about parables are spoken only to the disciples (vv. 10–11). More parables are then spoken to ‘the crowds’ (v. 34), but the crowds are again left behind (v. 36), and the second explanation and further parables are spoken to the disciples in ‘the house’ (which Jesus had left in v. 1). The unresponsive crowds are thus clearly distinguished from the disciples to whom alone explanation is given, and this distinction is spelt out in vv. 11–17. Continue reading

A sower went out to sow…

parable_SowerMatthew 13:1–23 1 On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.3 And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.5 Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.8 But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.9 Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Continue reading