THE FIRST PARABLE: KEY TO ALL THE PARABLES – 27 Aug 2005

Last week we spoke about vision and seeing the Kingdom of God and His call and purpose for this congregation, Nachalat Yeshua.  It was brought out that, according to Messiah Himself, knowing and understanding the first of His parables is crucial to understanding all the rest of His parables.  It is the privilege of His disciples to know them, whereas the multitude does not.  The parables of Jesus help us understand the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven as God works in the world today.

There are three series of parables which the Lord gives over the course of His ministry.  They seem to have reference to three different stages of Pharasaic opposition and popular feeling.  The Pharisees were accusing Jesus of being of the devil, whereas popular opinion was divided, with some wanting to make Him King already.  Jesus would speak in parables when those who were following Him – both believers and unbelievers – were not receptive to what He was saying, for example, when they expected the Kingdom to be then rather than include gentiles and be established in the future.  The parables helped conceptualize otherwise blanket statements hard to imagine, especially being that the subject matter required spiritual understanding of the things of God.  For those who wanted to understand, the Lord would explain His parabolic teaching; for those who did not, even the parable became a further proof of their hardened hearts and self-interest.

The first series of parables (Mt 13) reveal the elementary truths concerning the planting of the Kingdom of God, its development, reality, value, and final vindication.  The second series (Lk 10-16; 18) also concern the Kingdom of God, and while they are still characteristically evangelical, they also exhibit a controversial tone as the opposition to Jesus intensified.  The third series (Mt 18; 20-22; 24-25; Lk 19) are primarily judicial, with some evangelical elements included. (God is always extending mercy and hope if people would repent and believe.)

In order to help us be on the foundation upon which to understand the parables and the ways of God’s rule in our lives and in the world, I want to go through the very first of these parables, reading from Mk 4:1-20

Some key points:
Everyone hears the Word of the Voice of God:  Ps 19 1-4a (5a Heb); Rom 1:18-23; 10:14-18

–Not all who hear receive, accept, believe, obey:  Is 53:1; James 1:22-24; 2:18-19; Is 29:10-13; Heb 3:14-15

–there is eternal security for the believerPs 16:8-11; Rom 10:9-13; Heb 3:14-15

–the Lord knows His own, and all who call upon His name will depart from iniquity:  2Tim 2:19

The parables of Jesus help us understand the way of God with His people – both Israel and the Body of Messiah.  When Jesus gave the apostle John His letters to the seven churches that are in the Book of Revelation, He evaluates the condition of the believers based partly on what He taught His disciples in His parables.  Let us in the fear of YHVH gain knowledge, understanding, and wisdom for the times in which we live so that we are walking in the Spirit of Truth with our God and Savior.  God has a plan and is carrying it out by His Spirit according to His Word and covenants.

Study the Bible at home; participate in the Bible studies and house groups of the congregation.  The Kingdom of Heaven governs our lives.  Our attitudes and relationship to it and to the Word of the Lord determine the quality of our life – both in this world and in the world to come.

VISION OF NACHALAT YESHUA – 20 Aug 2005

Yesterday at Ein Gedi Spring, we (AIA group and me) met a park ranger.  When he realized that I was American (from my accent) and the others not, he asked how is it that people from 3 different countries could know each other and be together.  This opened the door to speak to him (Yaacov) about our faith in Jesus.  Yaacov believes in humanity and in nature, but he finally admitted grasping something of what I was saying when I used an illustration of a boulder being one boulder, with people breaking off pieces of that one rock and demanding recognition as if it were the rock itself, or at least the most important part of it.  Yet the truth – the righteousness – is that each piece of that rock belongs to and is part of the one whole rock.  The rock determines the significance and value of the pieces.  In other words, righteousness and peace and wholeness – truth – comes from God’s determination and perspective, not from our own or of others.

Jn 3:3   to see theKingdom ofGod, one must be born again from above by the Spirit of God
             –sovereignty of God

Mk 4:11-13   to us is given to know the mysteries of theKingdom ofGod; must understand the first            parable in order to understand the others

Rev 4:1   a door open in Heaven to see the things about to take place
                –need to know what will be in order to be prepared, and to give an answer of hope to others

Rev 5:9-13   from every tribe and tongue and people and nation give glory to Jesus who redeemed us            by His blood
                –the Great and Good Shepherd of the sheep is leading us to His (and ours) Father’s house

Is 41:17-20   different trees (people) planted together in such a way as each and all are dependent upon        YHVH God to live and to love one another so as to demonstrate to all that He has accomplished it

 Jn 17:20-24   to be one even as Jesus is one with the Father so as to demonstrate that Jesus was sent from            God the Father, and that the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus
               –must cooperate with the Lord because only He knows what this really means and how to accomplish it

EVANGELISM AND THE GOSPEL – 5 Aug 2005

Jn 6:47-71   The Bread of Life; Living Bread; Eat My Flesh – Drink My Blood; Many Jews, including Yeshua’s disciples, offended; Not all who are chosen believe in Jesus

Tonight we take the Lord’s Supper together and remember His death until He comes.  The New Covenant is founded upon the death on the cross of the Son of God/ the Son of Man – His blood poured out mixed with water after He died for my sins and yours – and His resurrection from the dead to live forevermore.

Nine times in this chapter (v. 27,39,40,44,47,50,51,54,58) Jesus refers to us having life in Him (live forever; everlasting life; not die; raised up on the last day).  Messiah plainly states that the resurrection of believers will be on the last day (in other words, not on some day years earlier).

There are several other points which this portion teaches us about the gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven: 
–Jesus makes claims which only God can.  He Himself alone is sufficient for sacrificing His body in order to give life, not only now in this life, but life eternal to those who believe in Him truly.  This is ourtestimony.  Yeshua compares and contrasts Himself to the manna which our fathers received from Heaven, and ate and died.  He is the Bread of Life, the Living Bread, who Himself came down from Heaven to feed the world, that whosoever eats of this bread will not die but live forever.  The fathers called the bread of the desert manna because they did not know what it was.  Jesus is identifying Himself as the Bread from the Father who gives us life; He is known; He is the Word of God, which was His food, and is to be our food.  Man does not live by bread alone, but by every thing (or word) which proceeds from the mouth of God.

–Jesus is not reticent to say things which shake – even offend – the sensibilities of other people, especially to those who profess to be religious or God’s people.  This was true of the Jews in His day, and still applies to them today, but also to professing Christians, whether Jewish or Gentile.  To be close to Jesus requires more, and distinguishes us more from the world.  Even His own disciples, and the 12 apostles – those closest to Him – were sometimes offended by His hard sayings.  To be close is to commit ourselves to Him personally and to His teachings; to be faithful to the Lord firstly.

–Jesus tells those who would come to Him that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order tohave eternal life and part in the resurrection of the righteous.  It is evident that He is not speaking about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood (which totally comes against all natural Jewish thinking as taught us all through the Bible), since He was still alive when He spoke this, and also when He spoke similar things to His apostles at the last Passover supper.  But as we have already said, His sacrifice on the cross for our sin, and His resurrection for our justification by faith, is the foundation of God’s covenant of Life.  As redeemed sinners and a kingdom of priests, we must identify and participate in His suffering and death in order to have part in the power of His resurrection.  At baptism we recognize this, and Jesus teaches that this must be the reality of our life as believers:  Messiah and Him crucified, and it is not I that lives, but Messiah in me.

–The Word of God, when spoken to people, including believers and disciples, is a sword:  the flesh resists it, the soul and spirit – even the thoughts and intentions of the heart – are searched out.  For those who do receive the Word, it brings hope, healing, peaceable fruit of righteousness; for those who refuse it and remain offended, the consequences bring pain, conflict, distance (separation) from the Lord and from other disciples and believers.  Many of the Lord’s own disciples stopped walking with Him after being offended by His hard sayings. 

–One can be chosen by God, even to be an apostle, yet not truly believe, and even betray Him.  Our hope and security are not in being chosen only – even Jewish people are all chosen – but in our relationship and fellowship with God the Father, with His Son Jesus Christ, with the apostles, (who by inspiration of the Holy Spirit have written what we need to know about all things that pertain to truth and godliness), and with other believers.  In the death of Messiah – and our eating and drinking of that – is His and our victory and hope and security.

Our Lord Jesus Christ sometimes says hard things which are difficult to hear and to accept.  But the Spirit says that obedience is better than sacrifice, and to love Him and the brethren is to obey Him and to keep His commandments.  It is not our will, but God’s that is to govern us, to be our food.

In another week or so we will be actively expressing our faith – through sport, music, sharing the hope that is in us.  The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin in people and of righteousness towards God.  We have seen too many examples (and read about others in the Bible, like Simon Magus) of those who claim to be believers – or to have God or Jesus in their heart, or they prayed the “sinner’s prayer” – but do not demonstrate the truth of Jesus being Lord of their life.  There is no change, no repentance from their former life with its thoughts and ways.  If He is my Savior from sin and the one who gives me eternal life through believing in Him, then I owe Him everything:  He has, by His love for me, captured my heart and mind to submit to His rule, to His ways.

 We want to speak truth to people, not promise them what is not in our power or authority to do.  We need to learn to stay with Jesus through good and bad, and to help others come to Him in the reality of His being Lord of all – firstly in our own soul.  As He died for us, we must feed on what that really means, and learn to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Blessed is the one who is not offended in Him.

Jesus in His death on the cross is our way to God.
The church is people who know God in the glory of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is sufficient for all our needs.