I once heard someone say that a parable was an "eartlhy story with a heavenly meaning." That sounds pretty, right? But it doesn't quite answer why Jesus used them. They aren't always the easiest lessons to understand (heck, they even left his Disciples baffled). So what's the point?
First off, while parables today are a bit obsolete, back in Jesus day they probably would have been more viral then a Justin Bieber video--at least in Judaism, where they were pretty common place.
I can only give you my own rational why Jesus used them: to separate the devoted from the casual listener. Spiritually speaking there are two kinds of people; the first person is the one who finds the idea of God pretty remarkable--they're willing to believe it, but they aren't willing to be fruitful with it; they want to go to church on Sunday, take a little nap, then go home and go on living; the idea of taking something out of the sermon is nice--as long as they don't have to work for it. The second kind of person, is the one who truly wants to grow; they're willing to take something that's hard to see and think about it--to let God reveal something in their life.
Think of the last truly profound movie you saw; you walked out of the theater really thinking about what the director was trying to convey on screen, and then you look around--chances are there's at least one person shaking their head saying, "Well that was stupid." That's how I imagine these parables. People either walked away thinking about what was said, and then there's going to be another group of people say, "I don't know what all the fuss is about." There was probably also a third group who walked away pretending to think it was profound just so they'd fit in.
Ultimately, I believe he spoke parables to provoke discussion--to get people to say, "What do you think he meant?"
If you want to read all of the Parables of Jesus, there is a list below. There are 36 total. There are also a several parables not in the Bible--some might be real, others are not.
The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
The Two Debtors (Luke 7:41-43)
The Lamp under a Bushel (Matthew 5:14-15, Mark 4:21-25, Luke 8:16-18)
Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)
The Friend at Night (Luke 11:5-8)
The Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21)
The Wise and the Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:46-49)
New Wine into Old Wineskins (Matthew 9:17-17, Mark 2:22-22, Luke 5:37-39)
Parable of the strong man (Matthew 12:29-29, Mark 3:27-27, Luke 11:21-22)
Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:3-9, Luke 8:5-8)
The Tares (Matthew 13:24-30)
The Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9)
Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19)
The Leaven (Matthew 13:33-33, Luke 13:20-21)
Parable of the Pearl (Matthew 13:44-46)
Drawing in the Net (Matthew 13:47-50)
The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:52-52)
Counting the Cost (Luke 14:28-33)
The Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:4-6)
The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:23-35)
The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-9)
Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
The Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13)
Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
The Master and Servant (Luke 17:7-10)
The Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-9)
Pharisees and the Publican (Luke 18:10-14)
The Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)
The Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33-41, Mark 12:1-9, Luke 20:9-16)
The Great Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 14:16-24)
The Budding Fig Tree Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-31, Luke 21:29-33)
The Faithful Servant (Matthew 24:42-51, Mark 13:34-37, Luke 12:35-48)
The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
The Talents or Minas (Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:12-27)
The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Numbers are important in the Bible. I wouldn't go as far as saying there are codes and we can somehow interpret everything from who we are going to marry to what time we are going to take a #2 in the bathroom, as some people do (I'm looking at you Michael Drosnin--but if you truly believe what your book teaches, then you probably already know that.).
So how do I mean they are important? Often God uses them symbolically in the Bible. 40 is one such example. Jesus was tempted for 40 days. What else happened in the Bible with the number 40? It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and Noah's faith was tested; children of Israel also wandered around for 40 years with Moses; Ezekiel lay on his right side for 40 days. What's the commonality there? Why is it symbolic? In each instance it's really a period of maturity--I wouldn't call it testing as much as preparing.
And how about the 12 disciples? What's so important about the number 12? 12 comes up a lot when your talking about government in the Bible; there are 12 tribes of Israel. The temple of Solomon has the number 12 referenced too a lot; and in revelation there are 12 foundations, 12 gates, 12 pearls, 12 angels. It's actually referenced to a lot more in Revelations. So why 12 disciples, I believe it has more to do with the 12 tribes than anything else; in the Old covenant there were 12 tribes, in the New covenant there were 12 disciples--but are essentially the foundation of God's people.
If you want to know more about Numbers, check out a book on "Biblical Numerology."
Friday, October 15, 2010
I have decided, for now, to keep The 140 Bible Project a New Testament thing; it's not that I don't love the good old OT, it's just that @BibleSummaries and @140Bible are doing such a great job already.
That's not to say I won't get there. I will. I hope.
So, that said, the first half of this project will be finished in less than a year (FYI, there are 260 chapters in the New Testament)
You will also notice, unlike other Twitter translations, I'm including additional resources. If these annoy you, I'm sorry. They're meant to sometimes amuse you and sometimes enlighten you. If you don't like them, then, by all means, ignore them.
I originally said I would be jumping around. Then I learned that people actually like things traditional. So I have changed my mind. From here on out, I will stay in the traditional order (although, one could argue, it is theoretically in order because "some" scholars still believe that the Gospel of Mark was written first, and thus should be first in placement).
I hope you are enjoying the project so far. I do see all of your @ replies, but I have decided not to reply to them with the @The140Bible account; I use my regular account @scott_douglas. You can also send me real messages here: email@example.com.
Also, there is now a Facebook page (or you just want to give added support), so if you prefer reading things there, then click on over to this.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
So what's the deal with the long list of "...was the father of..." and why does it matter? Most scholars attribute the Gospel according to Matthew to a Jewish Christian--not Matthew the Apostle. The author, if not the Apostle Matthew, was likely a follower of Matthew and belong to a church that Matthew set up, and in both cases Jewish traditions would have been important. One thing Jews loved back then is family history.
So what's going on in the genealogy and why is it important? Two major reasons. One, it's linking Jesus back to Abram, the father of all Judaism. If you could tell a Jewish person that you descended from the line of Abram, then you were royalty. Two, it's further linking Jesus to David. All of this fulfills prophecy, but it's also setting up Jesus to be the rightful ruler of the throne that was set up with David.
The real argument about Jesus isn't about if he existed. Every religion, even Judaism, will tell you there's enough historical evidence to prove that he did exist. The argument is always going to be was he who he said he was. Matthew is arguing that he is the King of the Jews that prophecy predicted. Non-believing Jews, will argue that he was not literally a king, so the prophecy was not fulfilled. They believed that the Jesus who was descending from the line of David was going to be a mighty ruler who conquered--coincidentally there was another person claiming to be the Messiah that came a few years later, and he did try, unsuccessfully, to conquer--his name was Simon bar Kokhba.
So the importance of this genealogy is it's showing that Jesus can be traced back to Abram and David--thus making the argument that he was fulfilling prophecy, and proving he is the Messiah.
If you're familiar with the Gospel of Luke, then you might notice it looks a bit different from Matthew's; it's too long to get into here, but if you're interested in knowing more about the lineage of Jesus, then Google it--you will find plenty of resources.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
John the Baptist preaches and baptizes in the Jordan. Jesus is baptized. Jesus calls the Disciples & begins his ministry. Jesus heals many.
Jesus heals paralyzed man; @ night he dines with sinners & is questioned for his actions; he explains that he's on Earth to save the sick.
Jesus heals on Sabbath, is scolded by preachers; explains laws can be broken for good of man. Crowds follow. Appoints 12. Drives out demons.
Jesus tells many parables, later explains to disciples, who don't understand that parables fulfill prophecy. He calms a storm in the evening.
Jesus heals a demon possessed man, then raises a girl from the dead. Large crowd follows Jesus and a woman is healed just by touching him.
Jesus mocked in hometown--heals no one; sends out disciples 2x2 to teach. John the Baptist, beheaded. Jesus feeds 5000 then walks on water.
Wait! John the Baptist, beheaded? Yeah. This video will explain everything in slightly less simple terms.
Preachers see Jesus w/ unclean peeps & asks why he can't live by tradition; Jesus says man's unclean by the sin that comes out of him.
T140 doesn't include Pharisees. That's because many people don't know who a Pharisee is? Wanna know? Go Here.
Jesus feeds 4000. Peter later confesses that he believes Jesus is the Christ, but Jesus warns not to tell anyone, Jesus then predicts death.
Jesus takes 3 disciples who see Jesus talking w/ Moses & Elijah; people begin driving out demons in Jesus' name--Jesus says it's good.
Jesus says kingdom of God belongs to child, then shows how hard it is for rich to put aside wealth. Heals many & again predicts death.
Jesus enters Jerusalem to cheering crowd. Clears out the temple, which is corrupted with money changers. Preachers question his authority.
Jesus heals many and later says greatest command is to love. A widow offers him little she has, but Jesus explains it's more than most give.
Jesus says no one knows when the end will come, but to be on the lookout for false prophets. Says end will come like a thief in the night.
Disciple Judas paid to betray Jesus. Then Last Supper w/ Disciples, arrested+condemned to die. Disciple Peter denies Jesus to save self.
Preachers take Jesus to Pilate who suggests they release him, but preachers say he must be killed. Jesus hung on cross & dies 6 hrs later.
FYI, Pilate is sort of like a governor. Wanna know more? Go here.
Women go to anoint Jesus. When they arrive the tomb is already open & person in white says he has risen from the dead. Woman tells no one.
Mark ends more abruptly than any of the 4 gospels. What's up with that? Go here.
The Gospel of Mark in 140 Characters:
Jesus Baptized, heals, feeds 5000, then 4000, causes trouble @ the temple. Plot to kill Jesus. Arrested & crucified then raises from dead.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
If you have read Mark before you might have noticed that it ends abruptly. To be more specific, it ends at verse 8; the two Mary's go to anoint Jesus' body; when they get there, the stone in front of the tomb has been moved and a man appears telling them not to be afraid. Judging by the women's reaction (they were literally trembling like they saw a ghost), it was probably an Angel.
The chapter (and book of Mark) ends with the two Mary's trembling, and telling no one. That's it. No appearing to others--not even an actual Jesus appearing.
Not the Mark you heard in Sunday school? That's because "some" manuscripts took things a bit further. In fact, if you have a Bible then open it to Mark 16; chances are, you'll see some little reference in the chapter mentioning that the earliest manuscripts don't contain verse 9 to 20.
So what gives? If you believe that verse 9 to 20 were there all along, then your good! Why mess with a good thing? Sure, pretty much every scholar would disagree with you, but who cares, right? Just keep believing, because it seems to be making you happy.
But what if you want to believe it's not there? Why would the Gospel end so abruptly? You really have to consider the point of the book to answer that. The other Gospels hit it hard that Jesus rose from the dead--they wanted people to know it and tell it. Mark isn't so much about the miracle as much as how followers should behave. Mark emphasized discipleship; unlike other Gospels, Mark doesn't even bother telling about Jesus' youth--he gets right to the ministry of Jesus, and how, as a believer one is supposed to live.
To some, the greatest thing about Jesus was that he came back; for Mark, the greatest thing is what Jesus gave while he was here.
Also, keep in mind that just because the Gospel bares Mark's name doesn't mean Mark, the disciple wrote it; many scholars attribute the book to a follower of Mark's teaching. If that is true, then it makes sense that they would emphasize discipleship over the resurrection because that's what his ministry/teaching was all about. To tell someone you belonged to a church that Mark started meant that you held discipleship pretty highly.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Who was Pontius Pilate (AKA, Pilate) that the Bible refers to so frequently in the Gospels?
Like many accounts in the Bible, there are not a lot of historical documents that exists today to better understand figures like this. But here's what can be assumed about him...
Pilate, being a Roman citizen, was likely a pagan; if you think pagan, and you think witchcraft, then you’re wrong. In Jesus' day, pagans were pretty much anyone who didn't believe in non-Abrahamic religion. The Romans inherited much of their belief system from the Greeks, which is to say that, by and large, it was Hellenistic--astrology was big for them, as was gods and goddesses. If you read the Gospel in more detail, you will notice that he seems intrigued by one particular aspect of Jesus' life: the miracles. Pagan's ate that stuff up.
Basically, Pilate's role in all of this was he was a Prefect of the providence Jesus was in. The Roman empire had around 40 or 50 such people. They were what we might consider a governor. What did a Prefect do? He had four key areas that he was responsible for:
1. Made sure the taxes were taken
2. He managed the money and supervised large scale building projects
3. Served as judge
4. Commanded army
Pilate, like all Prefects of his day, would have served a 2 to 4 year term.
Romans were pretty good about keeping records of stuff going on. After everything that took place, it can be assumed that Pilate would have sent out a letter explaining what went down. Here's where things get sketchy, however: no one knows were Pilate's letters went. There are several references in ancient text that refer to the "Acts of Pilate," but the only text that remains appears to be fabricated from the source material.
This is what "some" assume: the letters were sympathetic to the Christian cause, and may have actually given proof that they were right; pagans destroyed the letters to try and simmer down the Christian movement rapidly taking place. Christians recreated the letters with their own slant to replace them.
What's true? What's fake? Good question. Reading the Gospel, you get the impression that Christians were fans of his work. He was the one who sentenced Jesus to die, but you get the impression that he wasn't to blame--he was just doing his job (some even pushed the blame on Herold Antipas (more on that later)). This, as opposed to Jewish literature of the day, which made him out to be a stubborn troublemaker who killed people for the sport of it (you can read the Jewish attitudes towards Pilate in the works of two Jewish historians of the day: Philo of Alexandria and Josephus).
What became of Pilate? No one knows for sure, though many speculate he was exiled. What is known is Christians of the day were fascinated by him--perhaps there's a reason, and we just no longer have the text to tell us why.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Maybe you've read the Bible and heard the word Pharisee or Sadducee thrown around? So what gives with this preacher stuff?
Let's get historical, shall we? First off, preacher is not found in most translations of the Bible and for good reason--if you are going with the most accurate translation then that word just does compute. Don't worry, I'm not just loosely throwing the word around here; in many respects, people today would recognize Pharisees and Sadducees as preachers. In reality, they were probably closer to what modern church goers know as elders or church leaders.
What's the difference between the two? Let's start with the Pharisees. Pharisees liked to keep things old school. They believed in an afterlife (which, oddly enough, some Jews did not--but that's for another blog), and they believed that a Messiah would come; some eventually believed that Jesus was the Messiah, others did not, and some believed in a different Messiah altogether (you can see a huge list of people who claimed to be Messiah here). They loved laws; in particular, they loved the Torah. On top of the Torah, they believed in something called the Talmud, which is basically the law that God gave Moses that was passed down orally from generation to generation.
And now, The Sadducees. Where Pharisees could be seen as working class every day people, the Sadducees were--for lack of a better word, elitist. They did not believe in the idea of Oral Law which was found in the Talmud; they insisted in a strictly literal interpretation, and, as such, did not believe in the afterlife; the after life is mentioned in the Talmud, but not the Written Law or Torah. The Sadducees were often priest or some other form of upper class.
There was also a third group that popped up called the Essenes. The most important thing you need to know about them is they are where we got a little thing called the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes kept things pretty monastic (meaning no sex), so, for obvious reasons, they did survive for long--it's hard to keep any group going that doesn't encourage members to keep them popping out.
What you have to remember, as you consider all three of these groups, is people didn't exactly have democracy--politics for many people back then, was religion. In the same way that we might associate ourselves as democrat or republican, they would associate themselves with these religious groups.