The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew (Part 10)

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“If He is the King of Israel”

We have seen that Matthew employs the idea of the kingdom in two basic ways. At the beginning of his Gospel the kingdom is the eschatological Kingdom of OT expectation. In the parables however, the introductory phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like” points to images of the progress of the kingdom program as it wends its way to final fulfillment; only now and then is the age to come in view. Now that He is in the hands of His foes it looks to most onlookers that this cannot be the Messiah. He is powerless against those who wish Him dead, being fully submitted to the non-exercise of divine prerogatives or authority as “Commander of the army of Yahweh” (Josh. 5:14).

Matthew 27:26-50 is one of the most intensely stirring recitals ever penned. From one angle it gives the lie to all the grand expectations of the OT of the great Coming One. Surely we are mistaken about Jesus? He is defeated. He goes to meet Death having barely made a splash in the world, never mind reigning over it in justice and peace! That was the perspective of many at the time, and they thought they had good scriptural reasons for their opinions. They are represented by those who cried “If He is the King of Israel…” then something must happen to realign reality with covenant expectation. Jesus could not be the long-expected King.

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The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew (Part 9)

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Matthew 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25

The two parables that begin chapter 25 both have lead-ins which state, “The kingdom of heaven is like” (Matt. 25:1, 14). The second of these, the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30)1, is about stewardship in honoring the King. Glasscock hits the nail on the head:

[T]he Lord’s point was that the kingdom…was calling servants to honor and glorify its King. Those who failed to do so demonstrated they were not true servants but wicked, lazy, and useless usurpers of the prerogatives of the kingdom…primarily this parable relates to Israel, who claimed a desire to serve their King but in reality squandered His blessings. Any tempt to relate this to the church or associate the “talents” with skills or abilities, especially spiritual gifting, is eisegesis.2

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Justice and Faith on the Earth

In Luke 18:1-8, we find a parable taught by Jesus that was uniquely recorded by Luke.

Interestingly, the parable revolves entirely around the concept of justice—perhaps the hottest topic going today.

… There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ (NKJV)

Social justice, racial justice, economic justice—it seems that everyone today wants to be (or, at least, appear to be) sold out for all of them! Some will even go so far as to attempt to say, or even do, the most radical things possible to show that they are a life-and-death-kind-of-serious about justice.

I just have a question about the types of justice mentioned above, as well as any other varieties being discussed: What do these terms mean? Can anyone actually define them, or are they just catchphrases designed to make us all feel and look better?

Furthermore—and much more importantly—are the definitions offered rooted in Biblical truth?

When Jesus spoke about justice, or righteousness, in this parable, He was obviously grounding His statements in the Mosaic Law. It is morally impossible to take the word justice and simply fill it with a meaning that is devoid of any Biblical roots. We must also be concerned lest we find ourselves uttering phrases—like social justice—which are packed with historical meaning of which we might not even be aware.

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Book Review - Interpreting the Parables

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People like to tell stories and they like to listen to them. They like listening to the retelling of history in story form and the telling of made-up stories for the purpose of making a point. While interpreting the retelling of history is fairly straight forward the interpreting of made-up stories is not. Many people groups and religions use stories for various and similar purposes. Christianity is no different. Stories that are made-up with the intent of teaching a lesson are typically called parables. While there are few parables within the Old Testament the New Testament Gospels are saturated with them.

Following a long line of contributions to the field of hermeneutics and parables, and amidst a myriad of proposals, Craig Blomberg has updated his original work on the parables with the second edition of his Interpreting the Parables by IVP. In many ways this is two books in one as it deals with both the history of hermeneutical method and a discussion of proper hermeneutical method. Further, as one reads the book it becomes apparent that the book serves as more of a handbook (though a rather long one) than a straightforward theology of the parables since there is only one chapter dealing with the theology of the parables and the section dealing with Blomberg’s proposed hermeneutical method is not exhaustive (though extremely helpful).

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The Original Good Samaritans

When I was a child, I enjoyed reading Highlights Magazine, a publication for children; the magazine is still flourishing in 2012. One continuous feature of Highlights is a sketch with carefully concealed objects that blend into the picture. In today’s article, I encourage you to sleuth the hidden objects common to two Bible texts.

Most Christians are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-35. Jesus was responding to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” by means of this story. Lois Tverberg, in her book, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, suggests this parable is based upon a passage in 2 Chronicles 28. I agree.

You remember the essentials of the parable, don’t you? A Jewish man was going toward Jericho and was accosted by robbers who left him half dead. A priest and Levite (fellow Jews) passed by and ignored this man’s plight. A man from the despised Samaritan people, however, walked by and had compassion on the man. Luke 10:34-35 reads,

He [the Samaritan] went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” (ESV)

The tradition of the Good Samaritan, however, seems to originate in an obscure passage, 2 Chronicles 28:15. The soldiers of the Northern Kingdom of Israel—Samaria—had slaughtered 120,000 Judeans and captured another 200,000 as slaves. The prophet Obed spoke a word to the Lord shaming the Samaritan Jews and admonishing them to return the captive Judeans to their homeland. Surprisingly, the people responded. As we read the response, look for evidence suggesting that the Good Samaritan parable is a midrash (elaboration) upon these historical events. See how many similarities you can note.

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