Eight More Parables
For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the parables of Jesus
explain the mysteries of the Kingdom
(Luke 8:10). Therefore, "take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given"
Those who believe the Word of God and obey it (James 1:21-25) will grow in their understanding of the ways and wisdom
of God. Such growth doesn't happen all at once but gradually and progressively as the mind is renewed through the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit
Here are eight parables of Jesus
which reveal deep truths about the Kingdom of Heaven:
- Faithful and Unfaithful Servants (Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:41-48) — In this parable, Jesus taught that the servant who remains faithful while his master is away will be rewarded with greater responsibility when his master returns. But the servant who acts carelessly and gets drunk while his master is away will be cut off to join the unbelievers in weeping and gnashing of teeth. The message is this: to whom much is given, much is required. When you know the will of God, you had better obey it. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (I Corinthians 4:2).
- Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) — This story is about a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard, agreeing to pay them "one day's wage" (a denarius). At various times throughout the day, the man returned to the marketplace to hire more laborers, saying that he would pay them "whatever was right." At the end of the 12-hour workday, all the laborers received the same pay! Well, the workers who had been in the vineyard all day grumbled about their wage. Surely, they should receive more because they bore the heat of the day! But the householder replied that he had paid them as agreed, and it was his choice to be generous to the other workers. In a similar sense, those who serve the Lord and leave the size of the reward up to Him will receive far more than if they insist on knowing the reward ahead of time. It could also be said that some people receive Jesus in their youth and others in their old
age, yet all enter the same Kingdom. Jesus concluded by saying that "the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called but few chosen."
- Stewards and Talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) — A certain nobleman traveled to a far country to receive a kingdom for himself. He left his possessions under the supervision of his servants. According to Matthew's gospel, the nobleman gave five talents to one servant, two talents to another, and one talent to the third. Luke's gospel gives a slightly different account, saying that the nobleman gave one pound each to ten servants. Well, the nobleman went away on his journey. Upon his return, he took account of his servants. The first and second servants had increased their master's possessions by wise trading and were rewarded. But the third servant returned the master's pound to him, having hid it in a napkin, and the pound was taken from him. The message is this: no matter how much or how little we have, God is the source of all gifts and talents and we are reponsible to be wise stewards of that which He entrusts to us.
- Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) — This parable tells of ten virgins who awaited the bridegroom's arrival for his wedding. Five of the maidens brought oil in their lamps and five did not. While they all slept, the bridegroom arrived suddenly! The wise virgins hurried out to meet him, but the foolish virgins were delayed because they had to go buy oil. By the time the foolish virgins returned with oil, they were too late; the wedding had begun and they were not admitted through the door. The message is this: we must be ready at all times for the coming of the Lord, for we do not know the day or the hour of His return.
- Three Lost Things (Luke 15:3-32) — Three parables feature lost items which were found. Jesus' parable of the lost sheep shows how a shepherd (representing Himself) will go out of his way to find one sheep that strays. The parable of the lost coin reveals that angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents. The parable of the lost son (also known as the "prodigal son") shows how our Heavenly Father receives with open arms His backslidden son who returns to Him. These stories illustrate Kingdom principles such as mercy, forgiveness, and the steadfast love and kindness of God.
- Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35) — In this story, Jesus likened the Kingdom of Heaven to a certain king who took account of his servants. One servant in particular owed the king ten thousand talents (in today's money, over a million dollars). The servant had no way to pay up, so he begged the king to have patience with him and not take away his family and possessions. The king was moved with compassion and forgave the man's entire debt! Well, that same servant went out and found a fellowservant who owed him a small amount of money. The fellowservant begged for mercy, but the servant would not have patience with him, but instead cast him into prison. When the king heard what the servant did, he was angry and required that his servant pay back the enormous debt in full. The message is this: we are to forgive others, even as our Heavenly Father forgives us our trespasses.
- Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-24) — This parable tells of a certain king who made a marriage for his son. He prepared a feast and invited many people to come and celebrate. But those who had been invited made excuses as to why they couldn't come. Some of them even killed the king's servants who brought the invitation. Of course, the king was angry at the response to his invitation, so he sent his servants into the highways and byways to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind so his banquet hall would be filled. Matthew's account adds that the king found a guest in the banquet hall without a wedding garment (representing the righteousness of Christ), whom he promptly cast out. The message is this: many are called (or invited), but few are chosen.
- Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-43; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19) — A certain householder planted a vineyard, hedged it, digged a winepress in it, and built a tower in it. He lent out the vineyard to some caretakers (husbandmen) and left on a long journey. While the householder was away, he sent servants to his vineyard to receive some of its fruits. But the caretakers treated the servants shamefully, beating one, stoning one, and killing another. The householder sent more servants, but the caretakers treated them the same way. Finally, the householder sent his beloved son. But the caretakers, knowing that the son was the heir to the vineyard, killed the son and cast him out. Now, what will the householder do? He will destroy those wicked caretakers and turn the vineyard over to others. This parable speaks directly to those who reject Jesus Christ, for He will share His Kingdom only with those who bring forth Kingdom fruits.
In these parables, Jesus gave his listeners keys to the Kingdom
(Matthew 16:19) which unlock spiritual truths. For example, the "certain king" or "certain householder" is the Heavenly Father, the "son" is Jesus, and the "servants" are those who are called to labor for the Kingdom.
Furthermore, Jesus' parables
reveal a structure of authority
: the Father is the Supreme Authority, the Son is always obedient to the Father, and the servants are accountable to be obedient as well. The parables teach the characteristics of God
: He is the Source of all gifts. He is merciful, long-suffering, wise, and holy. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Finally, the parables show definite consequences for actions
: those who are obedient and faithful will be rewarded, but those who reject the King's Son will be cast out of the Kingdom. "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear"
The Reward of the Inheritance
There is even now a people
whom God is preparing to receive "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away"
(I Peter 1:4). Such people are those whom God has called out of
religious bondage, out of
spiritual blindness and deafness, and out of
the world's Babylonian system
. "Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon"
(Zechariah 2:7), and "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues"
(Revelation 18:4). They are also the ones whom God has called into
a close walk
with the Lord Jesus (see James 1:12, 2:5). "But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him"
Some Bible verses which pertain to the inheritance of the saints
are as follows:
- "The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever" (Psalm 37:18).
- "Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever" (Psalm 28:9).
- "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).
- "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12).
- "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:24).
- "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
(II Peter 1:11).
Indeed, the children of God will one day share in the glories of an incorruptible Kingdom
(II Thessalonians 2:13-14) — an everlasting Kingdom which can never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44). The children of God will rule and reign with Christ (Daniel 7:22; Revelation 2:26-27, 3:21, 5:10).
All creation waits, not
for the rapture of the church, but for the manifestation of the sons of God
(Romans 8:19). The sons of God indeed are a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light"
(I Peter 2:9). The "holy nation" mentioned here is not any specific race or nationality but it is a living temple
(Ephesians 2:21-22) comprised of "lively stones"
(I Peter 2:5), made up of people from "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people"
(Revelation 14:6). Jesus Himself is the cornerstone
of this building (Matthew 21:42; I Peter 2:6-8).
The Bible says in Psalm 94:14, "For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance."
What is the Lord's inheritance? It is His saints, the "holy nation" and redeemed people over whom He rules as King. "That ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"
(Ephesians 1:18). What a calling! It's no wonder He must "make ready a people prepared for the Lord"
The Kingdom of Heaven
is absolutely magnificent. It is the abode of God Himself, the same "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands"
(Acts 17:24). He completely fills the heavens and the "heaven of heavens
," as King Solomon declared in I Kings 8:27. How utterly amazing that our great God would choose to dwell by His Spirit within our bodily temples (see I Corinthians 6:16-19).
God's truths concerning His Kingdom are very much alive and real today, and His promises will come to pass. "For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations"
(Psalm 22:28). As His people labor
for the Kingdom (Colossians 4:11) and preach
the Kingdom (Luke 9:2), may His words take deep root in many hearts and bring forth fruit unto perfection
(see Mark 4:26-29).