Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jesus Not Making Sense

Jesus had been harshly judged by the officials from Jerusalem.  Until this point, there might have been a possibility that the politicians in Jerusalem might have accepted him as King.  But not now.  Jesus recognized this, and was prepared for this—saying ahead of time that God’s people would be rejected and persecuted.  Because of their rejection of his clear message, the Father determined that they must be judged. 
However, the judgment was not one of destruction—rather, it was one of ignorance.  Now they would not be allowed to understand the message Jesus came to teach.  It is at this point that Jesus began to teach everything in parables—to keep people ignorant of God’s truth.  Those who truly desired to understand Jesus would come and ask him, or be his disciple, to whom Jesus explained all things.  But to everyone else, these would just be stories and the truth would be hidden.

Jesus told this parable: “A farmer took his seed and scattered it everywhere.  Some of the seed landed on the hard road, beside the field that never planted properly and birds came and ate it all up.  Some of the seed grew up among thorns, and as they grew the thorns sucked all of the seeds’ water, and they died.  Some of the seed grew up among the rocks, and the plants had shallow roots, and so when the days grew hot, the plants withered.  But some seed was planted in good soil and it grew up and produced abundant fruit.”

            Jesus told another parable: “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.  It is only a tiny seed, but after it is grown, it becomes huge and all the birds will rest under its branches.  The kingdom of God is also like a man who plants a field and waters it.  He waits, and the plants grow up—but he does not know how.”

            The crowds were completely confused now, so Jesus told one more: “A man planted a vast field.  In the middle of the night, his enemy planted weeds that look just like the grain in the midst of the field.  As the plants grew, the man’s slaves came to the man and said, ‘There are weeds among the grain! Should we pull them up?’  The man replied, ‘My enemy has done this.  Let the plants grow up, because if you pull the weeds up now, you will also pull up some of the grain.  When they are all grown, then I will have you pull them all up and we will separate them.  The weeds we will burn, but the wheat we will bring into the barn.’”

            Jesus’ disciples were also confused, so when they were alone with Jesus they asked, “Could you please explain these parables?”  Jesus replied, “The crowds aren’t supposed to understand them, but you are given the meaning of the parables. 

            “This is the meaning of the parable of the soils:  The seed is the word of God about the kingdom, and the farmer is the evangelist.  Some people hear the word and reject it immediately—these are like the seed on the road.  Satan comes and steals the word out of their hearts.  The seed in thorny ground are those who hear the word and receive it, but they are too concerned with the things of this world—possessions and concerns and money—and so they do not abide in the word.  The seed among the rocky soil are those who accept the word, but then they are rejected and persecuted and so do not continue in it.  The seed in good soil are those who abide through all the difficulties and worries to remain in the word to bear abundant fruit.

            “This is the meaning of the mustard seed: The kingdom of God begins very small, but in the end, it will be the ruler of all the nations of the world.  Also, the kingdom of God is going to grow huge—but it will do so by the power of God.  Although I send you out to spread the word, you will not cause the kingdom to grow, only God will.

            “This is the meaning of the parable of the weeds: The field is God’s people, and the owner is the Father.  Satan has placed false worshippers of God in the midst of God’s people.  But the Father is not judging them all now.  Rather, he will wait until the end of the age, and then he will send out his angels to separate the good from the evil.  The evil will be punished in eternal fire, but the righteous will come into the kingdom of God and live in blessing forever.”

            Jesus also placed a riddle around himself.  He called himself “Son of Man” which no one knew what it meant.  Most thought he was just calling himself a prophet, like Ezekiel did.  One day, Jesus told the crowds, “Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they all died.  But I am the bread of life that comes from heaven.  Whoever eats my flesh will never die.”  The crowd wondered, “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”  Then Jesus said aloud, “Truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life.” 

Many of his disciples heard this and said, “Who can abide this kind of teaching?”  Some of his disciples ceased following Jesus at this point.  Jesus then looked at the twelve and said, “Are you going to leave too?”  Peter answered, “Who else can we go to?”  And they remained.

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