A wrap on Matthew 13-mistaken impressions.
From the statistics, we know that few Little League baseball players are likely to make it to the 'Bigs'. When my oldest boy, Matthew, was eight years old, he played on his first baseball team. There was a boy on the team who showed talent beyond that of the rest of the boys and went on to just be 'from' our small town; he did indeed become a Major League sensation at age 20--Dontrelle Willis. None of us who had seen his talent over the years were surprised. Baseball statistics-like the strikeouts he threw and his batting average at the plate--were quantifiable and shouted loudly.
But had this same boy started preaching and claiming authority from God, those who had known him at eight and ten years old, would have likely raised an eyebrow. 'Come on, kid, I wiped your snotty nose when you were growin' up. I knew your brother, and ran into your mother at the market . . . now you're making all these wild claims?'
I guess it was not surprising that Jesus met with the same sort of pushback from his fellow Nazarenes. Matthew writes, "When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, "Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?" Then they scoffed, "He's just the carpenter's son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers-James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?" And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family." And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. Matthew 13.53-58
Matthew 13 has been packed with much for us to learn and apply--seven parables, six of which start with 'the Kingdom of Heaven is like...' It had been a very long time-since college-since I had studied all of these parables together. The more I have read, studied, and grasped their appeal to the culture of first century Palestine and then their meaning, message and importance for us today, the more relevant and important I find them!
Remember-Jesus' reference to the Kingdom of Heaven is at once referring to our present doing of the will of God in our lives, knowing that in Jesus, the kingdom came, but is still not what it will be in all of its fullness ~ when God's will is perfectly done on earth and among mankind as it is in heaven and in Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven came, is doable in our lives, and is yet to be fully known. Ah, but we do see glimpses of it, do we not?
In v. 34, Matthew informs us that Isaiah had foretold of Jesus' teaching in parables 700 years beforehand, when no one had seen such a style of teaching.
In Matthew 13, we looked at the parable of the Sower, the Wheat and the Tares, the Mustard Seed, the Parable of the Leaven/Yeast, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Parable of the Net. Yes, we have seen the transforming power of the seed in our lives-with its power to change us forever.
Indeed when Christianity was born, it turned life upside down for first century folks. Christianity especially transformed life for women. The ancient Jew in his morning prayer thanked God that he had not made him a Gentile, a slave or a woman. In Greek and Roman civilization, the women did not fare much better. One demonstrable historical truth is that Christianity transformed life for women.
Jesus transformed life for many who had been without hope ~ the paralytic, the blind man, the sick child of the Roman official, the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12+ years and had spent all of her resources on doctors-Jesus was her only hope! And on her behalf, as well as the others, Jesus did the miraculous.
Yet when he came to his own, when Jesus came back home, they did not believe that Jesus was sent from God; they did not see his divinity, and so Jesus' power was stayed. 'Something so very sad about that. There he was, born amongst them, the Son of God, but he did not come in the package they had been expecting-he did not grow up to become the conquering King about to overthrow the tyranny of Rome-so they did not believe in him.
I'm wondering what Jesus has failed to do in your life
because you have limited him by your mistaken assumption
or impression of him. Might it be that you should give him
another chance? 'Look at the parables, the miraculous he
did out of loving compassion, and what he might want to
do for you ... hmmm.
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