What a great weekend! We had lots of people shoveling snow from Quincy Street to the backyard of the church. We had a strong team moving Erin to her new place. We had a group of people praying for the needs and opportunities that are outside our church. We tried our new parking plan. (Many thanks to everyone who is beginning to walk from the Washington-Lee Parking Garage).
During Lent, I will be preaching through 6 of Jesus’ parables about Life in the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is one that is already but not yet. We get tastes of what it is like that mostly seem to fuel anticipation and longing for when it comes in its fullness. We will see during this series that Life in the Kingdom can be captured in 11 words:
Scatter Widely. Expect Rejection. Love Anyway. Pray Like Crazy. Anticipate Grace.
You can hear the first sermon here.
When Jesus tells the parable of the soils, he is explaining why he tells parables and what effect His Words have on those who hear them. I said,
Parables seem like easy stories to understand– and in many ways they were. But Jesus says, I don’t tell them because they are easy. I use parables to talk about my Kingdom because I don’t want people to get it. Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, “I want them to see but not see and hear but not understand…” Jesus tells parables to create a barrier between those on the inside and those on the outside. It’s a permeable barrier, but it separates those who get the secrets of the Kingdom and those who just parables.
The passage Jesus quotes is this: Isaiah 6: 9-10 God said to Isaiah, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Isaiah asks the logical next question… how long do I have to do this, Lord? This doesn’t sound very fun. God says, “Until the cities are gone and everyone has moved away.” Isaiah’s task was to preach to a people who would never respond, who would ignore him, and ultimately completely turn away. What a hard calling!
But this was to prepare the way for the Messiah, to test people’s hearts, to create in them longing for redemption and restoration. Because Isaiah also foretold of One who would come to bring Good News, who would bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captive. (Isaiah 61)
Jesus used parables to probe people’s hearts. You see, you can be curious about God or Jesus and never really get to a place where you yield. Jesus wanted people who wanted Him, not just the cool tricks He could do or the clever way He had with words. Parables got people curious. Parables were also a means for people to respond and become convinced. My hope is that during this season, we would be people who take the words we hear and ‘hold them fast in an honest and good heart.’
Lets peer forward to see the King.