jesus on trial

(Parables and Impact on Church and State)

“Jesus’ whole life, every word and action was His teaching.”-4 That is why we can’t just look at His miracles or the events touching Him. His whole life, blended together, was his teaching. Throughout that public life, He utilized one special form of teaching: parables. Simply put, parables are short stories depicting a human trait with some moral to be learned.

Many times in the parables, there are multiple people with whom we can identify. For example, in the Prodigal Son parable-5, we can identify ourselves with the erring son, the older brother, the father, or the servant. Each person’s role portrays something, some value that we can identify with. Jesus would use these stories to help the people understand their role in life, the direction their life is moving, the good or bad quality of their life. Whenever He used a parable it was not to condemn but rather to help the person come to a better understanding about themselves. Even in His teaching, his love for the person was of paramount importance. At the heart of each parable was the kernel seed of the Kingdom of God.

In fact, many of the parables would begin with the words, “The kingdom of God is like…” The parable would go on, not about what heaven was, nor where it was, but rather the dispositions needed to acquire it, to get there. As the Church (the people of God) matured down through the years, their understanding of some of the parables grew, as well. For example, the parable of the owner of the vineyard-6 paying the same full wages to those who came very late in the day was originally viewed as God’s mercy. Later, as the Church grew, she realized that it was deeper than that. At the heart of this parable was the teaching that nothing that we can do “earns” salvation. It is purely God’s gift. God calls everyone to the kingdom. How we respond to that call, how we accept that gift is what is critical. Before the break we used the phrase “this makes sense, therefore I believe”. Intellectually, it can make sense, but we cannot leave it there. To accept the kingdom is to place our trust in God. That, placing of our trust, is our response to God’s call.

In another parable we hear that the kingdom of God is the forgiveness of huge, un-payable debts of sin out of God’s mercy.-7 If God has forgiven us these huge debts of our sinfulness, it only stands to reason that we must forgive those debts that are owed to us. Why do we see the splinters of faults in others eyes, when we don’t see the beam protruding from our own eye? So, the kingdom of God will have the good and the bad in it, much like the parable of the net that indiscriminately gathers all kinds of fish.-8 Or, the kingdom is like the field that has wheat and weeds in it.-9 Both of these parables indicate that there will be a separation forever at the end.

To summarize this chapter, it is a glowing example of Jesus’ methodology of teaching. He gently loves us, and tries to urge us to look deeper into what the kingdom of God truly is. His love for us precedes everything else. He wants us to love Him back. He wants us to love our fellow man. Yes, we are sinful and lazy, but His love for us is always there. He died for us, so that we may live. Our acceptance of Him is something that will affect us the rest of our lives. It will affect how we live the rest of our lives and treat others. All of us are guilty of sin. No one can claim innocence on this charge. Because of this common guilt, it makes no sense to treat others as though they are less than us. And, through it all, Jesus (God) loves us and has forgiven us. If we accept all of this, then we accept the kingdom of God.

When I first read chapter five, in our book, I thought it was very dry. So, I read it again, and still again. I slowly realized the necessity of this chapter. It shows the backdrop of the time, into which Jesus came into the world. It shows the attitudes that were present, and why the peoples resisted so strongly the teachings of this Messiah. The Israelites did not expect a kingdom like the one preached by Jesus. Their kingdom was going to be one to overthrow the Roman tyranny. Their Messiah was to be a general, a great leader. Jesus was an enigma to both the Israelites and the Romans, as well. The Romans feared that this upstart Jesus would cause a revolution. But both factions were confused, since his words were that of peace and love.

The Hebrew peoples had grown accustomed to doing the letter of the law. The Torah spelled out everything for them: what they should eat, when they should eat, what they should pray; when they should pray. Life was simply a matter of doing exactly what the Hebrew Law said. If they did, then they would be pleasing to their God. There was no thought of internal moral convictions. You were righteous if you did what the law said. No more-no less. Judaism was a Theocracy: A nation ruled by God. Because of this, the high priest and the Sanhedrin ruled over all, because they were representatives of God. The Sanhedrin was a tribunal that was made up of members of the priestly class, Scribes, Doctors of the Law and the Elders. These last three groups were kind of the learned elite. However, among all the people, there was a great divide, caused by two diverse reactions to paganism.

On the one side were the Sadducees. They were religious but had no difficulty in associating with the pagans. Their group was made up of higher officials, merchants, property owners and priests. They held only to written law. If the law was mute on a point they felt that reason should decide. The other group was the Pharisees. They would not tolerate any dealings with the pagans. If it were not Judaic then there would be no tolerance of anything else. For the Pharisee, all law, written and oral, must control every aspect of human life. Most of the Doctors of Law were Pharisees.

Jesus seemed to be always caustic with the Pharisees. On one occasion, He called them “white washed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones.”-10 On another occasion, when asked why he ate with sinners, Jesus replied, “Those that are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”-11 Because of their blind obedience to the law, they frequently challenged Jesus on why He did things on the Sabbath. Why did He and His disciples pluck ears of wheat and knead them with their hands to make a rough meal on the Sabbath? Why did He work a miracle on the Sabbath? Did He not know the law and that no work was to be done on the Sabbath? To which Jesus replied, “The Sabbath was made for man, not Man for the Sabbath”.-12

It was in this period that Jesus lived. He was constantly being challenged by the authority of the day, both religious and political. Throughout it all, Jesus shows us how to address adversity. Whether it is persecution from others, people challenging our views, ridiculing our lives of temperance and modesty, or just dealing with the sorrows of life, He shows us that our eye must be fixed on Him, at all times. No other way can we survive as Christians. No other way will we want to live.

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-4 Believing in Jesus Chapter 4, Page 47

-5 Luke 15:11-32

-6 Matt 20:1-16

-7 Matt 18:23-25

-8 Matt 13;47-50

-9 Matt 13:24-30

-10 Matt 23:27b

-11 Mark 2:17

-12 Mark 2:27b

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