June 10 - The Parable - what and why?

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God.
Praise God for the revelation of himself in the creation and in His Word. Praise God for the fact that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of God's people, enabling us to understand the light and truth of the Scriptures. Psalm 19. John 16:13-16.
 
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of not owning, as you might, the privileges of having God's Word in your life – through hearing the preaching of it, and being able to read and study it for yourself. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you comprehend and make increasing use of these privileges. 


Let's read Luke 8:4-15 - The Parable, what and why?
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
 
We are going to be reading the same passage today and tomorrow because I want to set the context for Jesus' teaching. Today I am going to focus on verse 10 because it is critical to our understanding of Jesus' approach.
 
We are entering the second great body of teaching in the gospel of Luke, which starts here and continues to Luke 9:50. Jesus is now being mobbed daily with people. Luke tells us that a great crowd gathered to hear him. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, are engulfing Jesus every day eager to listen to him teach and see him do a miracle. The level of his popularity is breathtaking. Usually, the subject of such adulation would be focused on doing all they could to maintain the level of fever pitch interest. And you might expect the same from Jesus. After all, what is happening has to be a great thing. The more who hear Jesus, the more who will hear about the Kingdom of God. And who would not want as many people as possible to have that privilege? Typically, though, when the crowds increase, the message tends to become less demanding for fear of upsetting too many and leading to people leaving. Speechwriters are adept at saying what people want to hear, and in a way that will not demand much in response. The mantra is 'Keep them happy, and don't ask them to be over-invested'. Send them home excited, talking about the great event they've been to, but not grappling with too many demands on their lives. Jesus, as we shall see, knew nothing of that type of an approach. His focus was on communicating reality and calling people to serious involvement based on genuine faith, not superficial interest.
 
V10. Teaching in parables.
This new body of teaching I mentioned above begins with a parable that has a place of prominence in all three of the Synoptic gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark, and Luke. 
 
Jesus' taught in miracles, as we shall see in a minute, for a reason, but what are they in essence? Parables are the revelation of what Jesus calls the 'secrets' or 'mysteries' of the Kingdom of God. Those 'secrets' exist, because men, darkened in their minds and defiled in their hearts, cannot discern and understand the spiritual truth of the Kingdom of God. The capacity required to do so, to come to an understanding of that truth, to know those facts, the details about the Kingdom, must be 'given' to man. This 'giving' is the Holy Spirit's work, done solely and wonderfully by grace, through the gift of the preaching of his Word. It is astonishing when you think about it. Here is the truth about the most important thing in the world – the Kingdom of God, and it has been revealed to us freely so that we can know it, and live our lives founded upon it. Each Lord's Day morning and evening, you are offered the privilege of having the Word of life proclaimed in your hearing. The Psalmist says that the Words of God are to be desired more than gold, “even much fine gold”, Psalm 19:10. It is your’s for the receiving and owning at absolutely no cost. Unbelievable. 
 
On Monday, it was reported that a treasure chest containing over $1 million in gold and jewels, which had been hidden in the Rocky Mountains by a multi-millionaire art dealer ten years ago, had been found. The man who planted the 'treasure' had posted clues to the treasure's location online and in a poem published in his 2010 autobiography, "The Thrill of the Chase". According to news reports, the search for the hidden treasure had lured tens of thousands of people, one report said up to 250,000 people, many of whom had spent thousands of dollars trying to decipher the clues and then search for what they believed to be life-changing riches. It was certainly life-changing, or rather life-ending, for at least four people who are known to have died in pursuit of the 'treasure'. The 'treasure' hider, who is now 90, had reportedly pledged never to reveal where he hid the prize, saying in 2016 that, "If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me". And, you and I have free access to the eternal riches of the Kingdom of God, and at what cost? Time in the car to get to the building here in Ottawa.
 
V11. Not everyone will get it. 
But what of those who hear and do not understand? Jesus says, "seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand." The unregenerate can listen to the truth, but they will not get it; why not? Because of the absence of a work of God's grace in their lives. Their minds are held in darkness, and their hearts continue to be as defiled, even more so because of the impact of sin, than the day they were born. The giftedness of the preacher is to no avail. Just as with Jesus, many will sit and listen, but all they hear is a muffled sound. It is like going to hear an international orchestra play Strauss or Mendelssohn, but sitting with a hat pulled down over your ears, and a blanket wrapped around your head. Yes, there may be the occasional comment when something is said that moves them emotionally, but it superficial and has no long term, let alone eternal, effect. They may seek to replicate the behaviour of the truly converted, but there are always tell-tale gaps. It's the lack of genuine hunger, real desire. Their conversations are not peppered with references to Christ and his Kingdom, the work of the church, and of blessings received. Talk to them about their work, or their hobby, and they will talk the leg off a stool, but mention Christ and his work in their lives, and after a few 'hems and haws' there's the awkward silence. They have heard the same truth preached as everyone else in the building, but they haven't. They have seen the glory of Christ presented through his Word in the same way as others, but they haven't. The gospel and the good news of the Kingdom have been freely offered to them without strings attached, but their minds and hearts simply aren't in it, so the secrets of the Kingdom remain mysteries. The spiritual blessings are there for the taking, but they stay undevoured. 
 
Note, this is deliberate on God's part. This making of Kingdom truth, plain and clear, means that no one will be without excuse. No one is with excuse anyway. As Paul writes to the church at Rome, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse." Romans 1:19,20. But in addition to the creation revelation, there will be billions of people on the Day of Judgement who will be shaken to the core. For the first time, they will understand that what they refused to listen to in the gospel was plain and simple. With the result that when they hear the words – 'depart from me you worker of lawlessness', they will go into eternity and will remain eternally pierced by the justice of the judgement upon them.
 
Please take care to search your own heart on these things, as Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12,13. 


Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 135A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.


Memory Verse.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
Ephesians 1:3-6
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace," 
 

Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 53 - Which is the third commandment?
Answer - The third commandment is: You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
 

Thank God.
If you know yourself to be truly converted, thank God for renewing your mind and making your heart regenerate so that you can see and hear his truth. Pray that God would give you an insatiable hunger for the hearing of his Word preached and the meditating upon it for yourself.
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley