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Verse of the Day - Matthew 15:15
Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us."
Daily Scripture Reading - Matthew 7
Question #34 - What is sanctification?
Answer - Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11).
Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.
Chapter 25 – Marriage
Amidst the discussion about the Pharisees and scribes, and the disciples noticing different reactions to what Christ had stated, Peter, as usual, spoke up for the group and came right out and asked a question. They had heard the tradition of the Pharisees and scribes. They had heard Jesus' reply and rebuke of their conscience binding traditions that attempted to invalidate the commands of God, and they were wondering what exactly Jesus was saying.
So Peter asked Jesus to explain the parable to them. A simple statement that revealed an eager heart. Eager to understand what Jesus was saying. This was after all a parable.
The Parable, a teaching style used frequently by Jesus, is a method of imparting truth by way of a story. The story may be true, or it may be fiction. And the "moral of the story" is often hidden. It is left to those who are mature, truly hungry for truth, and illumined by the Holy Spirit to understand what is being communicated. In fact, we would say that the lesson within a parable was there for discovery by those who have discernment!
The disciples in fact had asked Jesus earlier in Matthew 13 why He spoke in parables. Here is the exchange:
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The parable, you see, was an opportunity for Christ to teach and for those whom God had blessed with the ability to hear and see and understand to receive truth. When Jesus was ministering here on earth it was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah that not all who heard Him would hear Him - know what I mean? As we have discussed, they would hear but not understand. They would see but not comprehend what it was they were seeing.
As Jesus explains it, it had been given by God to the disciples to see and hear and understand the kingdom of God. But this was not given to everyone! Many in fact who heard Jesus parables learned nothing. Many left Him. But to those to whom God had given the ability, they heard, they saw, they learned, they believed!
We are indeed right back where we started with our study on discernment, for many in the crowd that heard the parables did not hear and understand. They were dull of hearing. Their ears were stopped. They could not understand. This is evidence of the fact that without the intervention of the Spirit, fallen men and women just do not get the cross or the gospel or the church!
The disciples at times, exhibiting what Jesus referred to as "little faith", also would miss the point. Many of the parables are followed in the text by a passage wherein the disciples came to Jesus after the telling of the parable and they asked for an explanation. They wanted to understand. They wanted to be taught by Him. They wanted to know the truth.
This is just such an occassion, only instead of waiting for a latter time in private Peter just came right to the point - in the very middle of the conversation Peter asked Jesus what the parable meant. He asked. He wanted to know. He desired to learn. He believed that what Jesus said was important.
This should remind us of course of Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 7:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus told the disciples and those who would hear and understand the truth that they must ask, seek, and knock. If there is a need - ask. To find something - seek. To have the door opened - knock. Simple, yes? But so utterly profound. Because the lesson behind asking, seeking, and knocking is a lesson about the very nature and character of God and a lesson in faith. Who do we ask? Who gives to us? Who opens? It is God! We ask Him. We seek Him. We knock and He opens.
Here is a picture of God, our loving Father, who when we ask gives us the illustration of an earthly father. If a child asks his father for bread what will his father give him? A stone? If he asks for a fish will he receive a snake? Any semi-normal human father, though fallen, knows how to grant the request of his children. How much more then does God know how to give us what we need, what we want, and what will benefit us? He gives good things - and only good things. He answers those who ask.
In James 4:2-4 we learn that when we ask and do not receive from God it is because we either do not ask or we ask amiss. Think about this. How often do we pray expecting God to give us what we want when we want it, as if God were some heavenly ATM machine and if we have the right Bible code to punch in then He will give us whatever we ask? How many teachers and preachers teach and preach the Bible this way? They twist Scripture saying that if we delight in the Word and ask in faith in Jesus name then God is forced to give us what we want. But in truth, if we are delighting in the Word of God then our desires will be transformed and we will want what He wants.
If in our selfishness we ask and ask for the wrong things then we cannot expect God to give it to us. Just as an earthly father would not give his child a poisonous snake no matter how that child pleaded. There are times that God knows that we need to wait, to persevere in prayer, and to have our hearts tested before the answer comes. There are other times He just says no. And there are times when we are asking for the wrong thing. But in His time, asking according to His will for us, He will give us what we ask.
Here Peter simply asks. Explain the parable to us. And Jesus does just that. We will follow up with that throughout this week to see what He was teaching His disciples and those of us who have ears to hear. Until then, do not be afraid to ask! Need something? Ask. Want something? Ask. Don't understand the Scripture you are reading? Ask! While He may not answer in the way we think He should, we have this guarantee - He will answer.
Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)
Praying in the Name of Christ by Thomas Boston
What Shall I Give You? by Robert Hawker
Bible Reading For Further Study
Recommended Songs for Worship