Essay, Research Paper: New Testament Parables


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1. Topic: Parables of Jesus in the Gospels. Mt 13:10-15, Mk 4:10-12, Lk 8:9-10
(The Purpose of Parables); Mt 13:31-32, Mk 4:30-32, Lk 13:18-19 (The Parable of
the Mustard Seed); Mt 25:14-15 (The Parable of the Talents); Mk 13:33-37 (Need
for Watchfulness); and Lk 19:12-13 (The Parable of the Ten Gold Coins). 2.
Context: The context for Matthew’s parables is that they come right after the
section on mounting hostility to Jesus and his mission (in which Jesus
establishes that every one of His followers and who does the will of God is his
brother and sister) and right before more of Jesus’ miracles and teachings
outside Galilee. In Mark’s Gospel, the preceding is the same, but it is
followed by more works in Galilee. Luke’s parables also follow the telling of
Jesus’ works and miracles. They are followed by His journey to Jerusalem. 3.
Relevant Footnotes: Matthew 13:11 – A parable is figurative speech and there
is more to it than just the story. One has to reflect on the story to understand
its meaning. God grants the gift to understand to his disciples but not to the
crowds. This fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy. Matthew 13:31-33 – This illustrates
how small the kingdom of God starts out with the preaching and healing ministry
of Jesus, and how big it will eventually expand to. Matthew 25:14 – The
interpretation is that one who uses his gifts wisely will see the kingdom, but
laziness will lead to exclusion. Mark 4:11 – The reason for Parables, in
Marks’ view, is so the commoner, or disbelieving crowd, will not understand
the meaning and teachings of Christ, but only his disciples will, who interpret
it and can understand because of their faith. 4. Comparison: The purpose of the
parables is common to the three synoptic gospels. In all three the same message
is conveyed. However, Matthew’s view or interpretation is much subtler. He
does not say that it is Jesus’ purpose to confuse the crowds or keep the
meaning hidden. The Parable of the Mustard Seed is the same throughout all three
gospels. The third passages of each group are indeed different. The Parable of
the Talents in Matthew tells us that we should use our talents to their full
extent to help others and ourselves. This, and not laziness, will lead us into
heaven. The Need for Watchfulness in Mark conveys the message that we should
always be ready for the coming of the Father. In other words, we should try to
be sin free at all times, because we do not know when it is our time to go on to
our next life, either in heaven, hell, or purgatory. The Parable of the Ten Gold
Coins in Luke has similar meaning as that of the Parable of the Talents, but in
a different context – gold coins instead of talents. It also tells about the
conduct of faithful and productive servants. 5. Old Testament Cross-references:
Matthew 13:14 – There is a reference to a prophecy by Isaiah which says,
“You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never
see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their
ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them.”
Matthew 13:32 – this can be traced back to Ezekiel 17:23 which says basically
the same thing, “on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it. It shall
put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every
kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.” A
tree of the Lord will represent a dwelling for His people. Mark 4:12 and Luke
8:9 have the same reference as Matthew to Isaiah. Luke also has the same
reference to Ezekiel as Matthew. The rest of the passages have no Old Testament
cross-references. 6. Commentary: Meaning of Parables -- Barclay says that for
the meaning for the parables, that the Greek word for secret is musteria. This
originally meant to the New Testament society, “something which was
unintelligible to the outsider but crystal clear to the man who had been
initiated” (Barclay). In other words, Christianity can only be understood from
the inside, through a personal experience. So Jesus spoke in parables because
common, outsider, men could not see the truth in any other way. This was a
deliberate act of God. There was great despair felt for all the followers, but
faith was the key to long term happiness. Parable of the Mustard Seed – the
mustard seed was not the smallest seed in Palestine, but it was epitome of
smallness. But at the same time, this little seed, did turn into something like
a tree. The kingdom of God starts as something very small but will end with the
following and gathering of many nations. “It is a fact of history that the
greatest things must always begin with the smallest beginnings” (Barclay). The
Parable of the Talents (Ten Gold Coins) – God says that you can have no
religion without adventure and a shut mind is useless. Every man is unique in
the gifts that he receives. The only thing that God asks is that these gifts be
used to their full extent – one has to at least try their hardest. The reward
of a job well done is still more work. If a man has a talent and uses it, his
skill will increase. On the contrast, if a man has a talent and does not use it,
it will leave him. Be on the Watch – Jesus does not know exactly the day of
the Second Coming or the end of the world, for some things are still left up to
His Father. The parable simply tells us that we should live in a way that it
does not matter when the end comes. Everyday we must be ready to meet God face
to face, and that life is simply preparation for this. Further, we must never
become obsessed with earthly things and never forget God.
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