Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
French Countryside near Bannalec

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 13, Mt 13, Lk 8

Today’s readings are Mt 13 and Lk 8. Tomorrow’s are Mk 4-5.

In Mt 13, Jesus tells a number of parables about the kingdom. In each one, the results of sharing the gospel are left in the hands of God. As the gospel is shared, the kingdom of God grows.
In the parable of the sower, the sower is not God, it is us. The sower spreads seed (the gospel) everywhere. It's not up to him to make the seed germinate. In other words, it's not up to us to make sure people get saved.  We are to be faithful in telling everyone who will listen about Jesus, spreading the “seeds” everywhere we can. Some seed never takes root, some looks like it might, but it doesn't and some seeds become healthy plants, producing more seeds. We share; God effects the change through the Holy Spirit.

In the parable of the weeds, it is not up to servants (a metaphor or us, as believers) to remove the weeds. "Removing the weeds" is a symbol for judgment. The Son of Man (Jesus) will take care of judgment.  We are to sow the seeds that produce the plants.

With the mustard seed, we see that God's kingdom will start out with a small movement and grow to become a huge, world-spanning blessing. The ministry of the gospel has a very small, fragile beginning but thrives nearly everywhere today. Even the smallest seeds we sow can turn into a huge plant in the kingdom.

A small bit of leaven (the gospel) will spread and permeate everything.

The treasure in the field (the gospel) is the culmination of all the metaphors for spreading the gospel. The gospel is worth sacrificing everything for. It is a precious jewel (the pearl of great value) worth all we have. This should demonstrate to us that the gospel is the most valuable thing we as individuals or as the church collectively can produce. The church is here to plant the seeds of the most valuable plant the world will ever see, the gospel. Anything else the church may produce is either secondary or worthless.

God will cast His net widely. In the end, the righteous will be separated from the evil.

Addendum - a few things to keep in mind regarding chronology: 

Most are aware that the eastern mind plays pretty loose with chronology and places a very high priority on making the point. In all likelihood, none of the gospels are spot on with order of events particularly considering some gospels mention certain events while others do not, the early cleansing of the Temple implied in John, for instance. By and large, the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, fill in gaps for each other. It's also likely that Jesus repeated His teaching from time to time and we get similar input from different events. This would explain the difference between the full version of The Lord's Prayer in Matthew and the abbreviated version in Luke. It doesn't make Luke's inferior, just contextually relevant to the time and place Luke records. They complement each other.

All that being said, there is significant evidence pointing to Mark being the first gospel written and, in some cases, a bit more detailed in order of events. This is because of Mark's close relationship with Peter. Many believe Mark's gospel is Peter's eyewitness version of what happened. Upon examining phrasing and language use, along with order of events, it can be seen that Matthew, Luke and John borrow heavily from Mark in many instances. That Mark is the one they borrow from is evident by the fact that Mark seems to be to common denominator between the four, more so than any other comparison of the four might seem to indicate.

Another possibility is that there was one original document that all four gospels borrowed from. This document has been labeled "Q", a lost document that all four gospel writers were familiar with. Most scholars like to speculate on the existence of "Q", but are quick to emphasize that this is mere speculation and has no bearing on the doctrine of inspiration. Even if Q was to be unearthed, it would not meet the qualifications for being included in the canon. In other words it would not be included in the Bible.

If Q did appear, though, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, it would, most likely, bring some clarity to some passages, augment others and affirm them all.

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