Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series. Part two will run next Friday.
Jesus stands out in history as a master teacher, and his use of the parable, a common Hebrew teaching device, remains my favorite of all his techniques.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2)
You can’t always recognize the truth about someone by what you see. People are adept at only showing certain things while hiding the things they don’t want revealed. This may be confusing for us, but God is not taken in by the illusion. He sees deep into the soul with perfect clarity and someday the truth will be revealed. Jesus warned of this reality in the parable of the wheat and the tares.
While most agree that speaking ill of the dead constitutes bad manners, perhaps it’s not so bad to speak ill of images of the dead. Either way I feel compelled to bare my own soul. Some might consider this the rant of a hyper-religious zealot, yet for my part I have seen quite enough.
“The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:34-35)
Matthew 12:38 “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’ ”
The Bible affirms that those who are generous with their assets will tend to prosper. One striking statement of this principle is given in Malachi 3:10:
“So he (Philip) started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch,… This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So, he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:27-31)
Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.”