In our world that is shaped by competition and earning, Jesus’ parables of grace seem to be upside down, bizarre, and other-worldly. While the grace of God may be celebrated by those who are vulnerable without it, the grace of God frustrates those who suggest that they can make it all on their own.
Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus used parables to convey deep truths about the Kingdom of God, God himself, and his followers. These simple stories reveal a richness and depth that, at first glance, may escape the hearer. But each parable says something eternity-revealing and spur us into action.
“Lost” is a reality that confuses men, confounds women, and can strike fear into the hearts of the bold if they realize they are lost. “Lost” is also a condition that Jesus used to describe people who were estranged from God. The curious thing about being lost is that more often than not, it takes someone else to find you. Someone like God, maybe.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:1–32
In preparation for his masterpiece, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey researched the success literature of the United States. What he found was that for the first 150 years, the material was based on character—who you were. The next 50 years, it was based on personality—how you acted. There is a significant difference between genuine faith—the kind the Apostle Paul describes in Romans—and the faith that we try to act out.
SCRIPTURE: Romans 12:9–18
In the parables, Jesus often speaks of the Kingdom of heaven, giving examples from daily life. In many cases, we can see the Kingdom growing in our world. In other cases it is harder to detect, seemingly hidden by noise and strife. On this World Communion Sunday, we will join with believers around the world to celebrate the Kingdom in our midst.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:31–34
Life is filled with weeds that choke and tangle our lives and with weedy people trying to entrap us and keep us from living into the fullness of God’s plan for our lives. Jesus teaches how we should respond to these weeds, and how we can ultimately use them for the betterment of his Kingdom.
Jesus tells a story in which he depicts God as a farmer who throws seeds. The seeds fall among the rocks, in the weeds, and on the hard-packed paths. Their location determines if they grow and flourish, or wither and fade. Has your seed fallen on the rock, with no way of taking root? Has it fallen among the weeds, only to be entangled by the toils of the world? Or has your seed fallen on the good soil, where it can flourish and bear fruit?
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:1-32
Jesus is part Savior and part ophthalmologist. He wants us to see things as they really are, not the version that is distorted by sin and blurred by the world which come to us naturally. Through parables, Jesus opens our eyes to the true story of our lives, and offers a new perspective into his Kingdom.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:10-17
It was late in the season when Paul was put on a ship to stand trial before the Emperor. He knew it could get bad. Sometimes, we can see storms looming, and can't do anything to stop it. Yet even when all hope seems lost, God promises us that we will be safe.
SCRIPTURE: Acts 27:13-26
At first, Jesus doesn’t stop the storm. The disciples are out of their minds, thinking they might die, and want Jesus to rescue them. Instead, Jesus asks about their faith. Some things can only be learned in a storm. Discipleship is mostly on-the-job training. What storms are blowing in your life?
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8:23-27