How are we to understand a parable that expresses the importance of forgiveness when, in the end, God refuses to forgive? In this message we consider several alternative interpretations to this challenging parable.
Crosby Stills and Nash sang, "Teach Your Children", a song inspired by a photograph of a young boy with a toy hand grenade. When his disciples asked Jesus who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he placed a child in front of them and made some statements that have much in common with Graham Nash's famous song.
Have you ever been completely correct, only to find that you had also completely missed the point? This is exactly the state that Peter found himself. There are important lessons to be learned in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.
When Jesus said, "on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it", he was standing in an outpost of the Roman Empire, near "the rock of god" in which was a cave named, "the gates of Hades". We believe that Jesus deliberately chose this location to make this important statement. The implications are many and very deep.
Did Jesus really call a desperate Canaanite woman a dog? Did he really tell her that he only was sent to Israelites? Was Jesus xenophobic? Was he testing her faith? No! There's a a much more encouraging way to understand this Gospel story.
This past week, Charlottesville, VA saw a repugnant crowd of white supremacists causing chaos. The "sea" is a scriptural metaphor for chaos. Jesus famously walked on the sea (chaos) and invited Peter to join him. In this message, we look for wisdom in a sea of chaos.
The parable of the leaven is just one verse long, yet it contains a scrumptious array of delectable morsels with profound importance for the world today.
Who are the weeds...the tares, and what is their ultimate fate? The fires of hell? Or, could Jesus have been saying something else? Something much more related to here and now...
U2's "Desire" was their first #1 hit in the UK. Bono's lyrics to the song have some striking similarities to the Apostle Paul's statements about his own desires in Romans 7. Both Paul and Bono show remarkable self-awareness of how their desires can dominate and frustrate their lives. In this message, we apply Rene Girard's theory of mimetic desire to these two texts; separated by 2000 years, but full of liberating meaning for today.
The Bible records an evolution of thought about God. Not a "straight-line" evolution, but one that moves in fits and starts, one step forward, two steps back, but it is there for those who have eyes to see. And the result is a very beautiful God indeed.