Text: Luke 18:1-8
Father, we’re going to cover an important topic — the parables of Jesus. I don’t know how long you’re going to have us here, but we ask that You give us more and more understanding. Thirty, sixty, one hundred times, the fruit of understanding so that we would live rightly. We need your help, Lord. Send your Spirit. Give us understanding, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts that understand the deep and profound mysteries regarding the parables of Jesus. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Last week, we covered Matthew 24. And I’m still not sure what the main text is, but I noticed that there are five, depending on how you count them, five to six parables that are sandwiched around Matthew 24. I thought, this is very significant. Jesus is speaking to a very small, intimate group of disciples and He’s approaching his death, burial and resurrection. These are very important words that He wants to emphasize.
And Matthew 24, the end is near. Jesus is talking about the end of human history and sandwiched around that important chapter, Matthew 24, is about six parables. And so I just want to give a brief overview about parables in general and then cover at a high level the 6 parables surrounding Matthew 24. And then we’ll just pick a parable and talk about it today.
What is the purpose of a parable? If you’re not sure, Jesus tells us exactly what the purpose is in Matthew 13. So let’s start there. Jesus gives the Parable of the Sower with the four kinds of soil. You got the soil like the path, soil that is filled with thorns, soil that’s filled with rocks and the good soil. And the good soil is like somebody who hears and sees and understands. And that person produces fruit that is thirty, sixty, one hundred times. We have to understand the fruit here that He’s talking about is understanding. Understanding the parables of Jesus.
Matthew 13:10 – the disciples ask Jesus, why do you speak to them (the crowds) in parables? In other words, Jesus, why are you speaking so opaquely? Why are you speaking in code language? Why can’t you just be clear? There’s a crowd gathered around Jesus because sometimes He speaks to crowds. Sometimes He speaks only to His disciples. But the key difference is that understanding of the parables is reserved for the disciples. The disciples hear the parable and get it because Jesus explains the meaning to them. And the crowd who listens to this same parable, they do not get the explanation. They do not have the Holy Spirit. They have closed eyes, closed ears, hardened hearts.
The parable is given. The crowd doesn’t understand. They don’t even think it’s important. They just walk away and do life as usual. But Jesus says in verse 11.
11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
What is the purpose of the the parables? It is twofold. One, it is to keep the mystery and the meaning behind the parable hidden from the crowds and to reveal it to His church. It’s intentional and so who is the precise audience of the parables? If Jesus doesn’t care about the crowd getting it, what group does He want to grant understand to? To whom does He want to reveal the mystery behind the parables? It’s you and me. Every parable is for the believer and it is our job to sit on it and to ask for understanding. To not be like the crowd and just walk away confused. Or to be a Christian who is content with just a one fold understanding, and then just go on with your day.
Our job is to sit on the parables until you you get it. You have some understanding, but you want more. If you get a little bit more, there’s still more to understand and so you ask for more revelation knowledge. That little bit, that one portion fruit of understanding is revealed. More and more revelation knowledge is given and that one portion of fruit becomes thirty times the fruit of understanding and then sixty, then hundred. That is what we’re supposed to do as brothers and sisters, as Christ followers, as the body of Christ. We’re supposed to sit on the parables and ask for the depths of meaning that are available to us. Because if you don’t have the full understanding of the parables, you’re not living rightly.
Matthew 24 is sandwiched in between six parables. Five that are labeled as parables. And the sixth that functions like a parable. Three before and three after Matthew 24. Let’s start with the first one in Matthew 21. We’re not going to read it. This is your homework. I’m just going to give a few comments about each and then you, it is your job and my job to sit on the parables and to ask for more understanding. It’s not my job to dissect every word and lay out everything for you, and then just by hearing a sermon, you think, Okay, I get it. I’m supposed to give you just enough so that you hunger for more and you go to the Lord Himself and you say, Give me understanding. I don’t get it. I see a little. I want to see more.
Every parable is directed at the Church, but not in a general way. Each parable is directed at a specific segment within the Church that is not living rightly. You have to see that these parables are corrective. It’s like there are parts of the body of Christ who understand these parables and they live rightly. But there are large segments, maybe the majority, of the body of Christ that does not get it. And because we do not get it often times, these parables are meant to correct our understanding, to give us more understanding so that we live correctly.
The Parable of the Two Sons. It’s about a Father who tells His 2 sons to go work in the vineyard. One son says, I’ll do it, but he doesn’t end up doing it. The other son says, I won’t do it, but he changes his mind, and he does it. He works in the vineyard. And at the end, Jesus looks at a bunch of Pharisees and He says, You should have changed your mind. You see the tax collectors. You see the prostitutes, all of whom are coming to salvation. You see the conversions that are happening before your eyes. You should have changed your mind. And we might think, I should change my mind and start working. No, it says, You should have changed your mind and believed.
So if I were to summarize this parable, this parable is addressing a particular segment of the body of Christ. Specifically, Christians who say that they’re going to listen to their Heavenly Father but who don’t. They should change their minds and believe. At conversion, all of us said, Father, Now that I am born again, You’re my Heavenly. Father. Whatever You say, I will do it. I will follow your Son. I believe in your Son. I will do whatever you say, Father. But do Christians live this way?
Think back to decisions you made in 2018. How many of them did you consult the Heavenly Father? All the decisions that you made this past year, did you consult the Heavenly Father? Did your decision making involve growing in your belief in the Son? Because that is the point of our lives — to grow in our belief and belief means trust. Did you grow in your trust? Like the decisions or the lack of making decisions, were you exercising trust in the Son? Or do you make decisions because you’re stressed? You don’t consult your Heavenly Father, you’re just stressed. You make a decision instead of asking the Lord, Am i released from this? Because if God put you there, then you are there until He releases you.
Are you just making decisions because you’re stressed? If so, how can you grow in your trust? Or you’re just bored, I’m going to make a decision. Did you consult your Heavenly Father? Has He released you? Didn’t you pray for this job? Didn’t He give you this job? If so, wouldn’t you pray to Him to ask if you are released from the job? You make decisions because you’re stressed or because you’re bored, or whatever decision making process you have in your head. There are reasons why God puts you in particular places. Bottom line. He wants to grow your trust. Have you changed your mind so that you grow in your trust? That is the point of this first parable.
Second parable. Parable of the Tenants.
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country.
This is addressing the Christian who is squatting on his or her life and not paying rent in the form of fruit. Because we know what a squatter is in real estate. Somebody agrees to lease your house, your apartment, your property. And that person has agreed to pay rent. But these tenants are squatting, meaning, they are living there without paying rent. And somehow they think this is my house. And I just want to make sure we understand whose house it is. Whose house is it? It is the Master’s house. Whose vineyard is it? The Master’s vineyard. Who did you make agreement with when you decided to move into the tower and work on the vineyard? You made it with the Master.
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
This is addressing Christians who are squatting on their lives. And they’re not producing fruit that the Master is coming to collect. And this is not an external fruit. We might be confused and say, This is about work so I’m going to work. I’m giving my labor to the Lord. Jesus is talking to chief priests and Pharisees, those who are working in the synagogue, those who are doing a lot of deeds, but they’re not producing the proper fruits. Because Jesus wants an internal change. Christians do not produce the proper fruits because they squat on their lives and they think, This is my life, this is my job, this is my money. They’re squatting. No wonder there’s no fruit. They’re possessing the vineyard, the tower, the vocation when everything’s been given to us by the Master. We don’t possess anything — our children, our money, our lives — we don’t possess anything. If Christians just understood this, that I’ve been leased this life. I’ve been purchased by the blood of Jesus. If we understood this, we would live differently.
Parable #3: The Wedding Feast. Which segment of the Christian body of Christ is Jesus trying to correct? Because He’s not talking about the people who did not come? Of course, they didn’t come. They’re like the crowd who hear a parable and they don’t get it. They don’t understand and they just walk away. So, if you don’t come to the wedding feast, of course, you’re not the audience of this parable. That person is not the audience. The audience is the person who shows up. They’re sincere. They want to be at the wedding feast. And guess what? It’s your own wedding. Of course, you’re there, you want to be married. You’re going to be married to Jesus. But who is Jesus addressing? The person who just rolled out of bed, still in their pajamas, utterly unprepared for their own wedding.
Parable #4. Matthew 24. Parable of the Ten Virgins. It’s similar to the Parable of the Wedding Feast. For the ten virgins, it’s their wedding day. Everyone is coming to celebrate the body of Christ marrying Jesus, our Bridegroom. And five are sleeping. So this is addressing the Christians who are just sleepwalking through life. And they need to wake up and get ready by putting on the right garments.
Parable #5. Matthew 25. Parable of the Talents. It’s like the Parable of the Tenants. Because these talents, the point is you’re supposed to produce according to your ability. Like John Piper, to me, is like a five talent teacher. And and someone like him, if he was lazy, if he didn’t study the Bible for months at a time, and he was just playing video games, you’d say, John Piper, what are you doing? You’re a five talent teacher for the body of Christ. Can you just study and teach? That is your life. But we are not all John Piper. Some are two talent persons. But you’re just responsible for the whatever you’ve been given — your life and whatever extra He’s given you.
Are you producing something for the Master? And the one talent person, he buries it. And we have to understand, why does he bury it?
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’
And then, going back to verse 14.
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
Whose property? The Master’s. The Master owns us. He’s given every one of us at least one talent — our lives. For many, He’s given us additional talents. And He will collect. And why does the one talent person bury it? He says, Master, you’re going to just take it. You didn’t sow, you didn’t water, you didn’t reap. I’m the one reaping. I’m the one working. You’re just going to collect. It’s not fair.
Is it unfair? Who is the servant and who is the Master? Haven’t we been entrusted with the Master’s property? Shouldn’t the servants serve? He’s been entrusted with the Master’s property? Didn’t the servant agree at the beginning? Yes, I will serve you, I will live for you. And our one life, what are we doing with it? All of us have at least one talent. At minimum, our one talent life, what are we doing with it? And those who bury it are those who think, this life is mine. My money. I worked for it, it’s mine. I’m not going to work if the Master is going to collect after all my hard work. He’s just going to take my money. It’s my money!
See, all of these parables are corrective. Jesus is correcting a bunch of wrong understandings in the body of Christ.
Now the last one, what I call a parable. The end of Matthew 25, the Final Judgment. Where Jesus comes and separates sheep and the goats. And He says, I was hungry, you gave me food. I was thirsty, you gave me drink. I was a stranger, you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison, you came to me. These are the sheep. The goats did not feed, did not clothe and did not offer drink, did not visit, did not care for the sick. Those are the goats, and people take this and try to apply it to a specific vocational calling or ministry in the body of Christ to the least of these. And that’s one interpretation, but if that’s the only valid interpretation, then all of us who are not visiting prisons, not visiting homeless shelters, not clothing naked people, nor feeding the hungry, if we’re not doing these things, then we are goats. Then we’re all in trouble.
I don’t know the last time you clothed a naked person. So is this talking about ministry to the least of these? I don’t think so because then, by definition, we’re all goats. But remember, this is talking about Jesus giving us advance warning that in the end times, things are going to be so difficult. Just surviving is going to be so difficult. Imagine a world where there’s a one world government. And there’s a chip or some way of identifying every person and now there’s some kind of cryptocurrency to buy and sell and Christians refuse. We refuse to take the mark. And all the nation’s hatred is targeting us. And the Church goes underground worldwide. The only way to survive is by Christians helping out one another. I think this is talking about how it will be, in the end, literally, how it will be in the end.
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
It says, To the least of these, my brothers. He’s talking about the body of Christ, caring for the body of Christ. Christians are going to be unaware of the needs of their fellow brothers and sisters worldwide. And during the end times, God wants us to be aware and not just aware. He wants us to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. And you might say, Well, I don’t know who they are. I think, in the end times, you will know who they are because they will be all around us.
There will be people among us in prison. If we’re part of the last generation, there’ll be some of us in prison. How wicked would it be if DY was in prison, but because I’m trying to save my own skin, I don’t visit DY in prison? How wicked is that? It’s just self preservation. I’m not sharing, I’m hiding, I’m just trying to save up my food for my family. How wicked would that be? If Peter doesn’t have enough money to put clothes on his back and I have a closet full of clothes, how wicked would that be if I don’t put a garment around him? If people here are starving and I have a pantry filled with peanut butter powder with a twenty five year shelf life because I prepped and the grocery shelves are empty because it’s just chaos in the streets and I just saved it for myself, I didn’t share with David — that’s wicked.
During the end times, the needs in the body of Christ are going to be obvious. You won’t have to wonder, Oh, this email that I got from Uganda, is that the need God wants me to meet? It’s going to be in our face. Christians worldwide are going to be starving. We’re out of the system, we’re going to be imprisoned, we’re going to be left out and the only way to survive is by caring for one another. To me, this is the only interpretation that is universally true and does not make those of us who do not serve in a certain kind of ministry a goat.
So that’s just a little bit to whet your appetite. The parables, you and I have to just sit on them. If you have one portion of understanding, ask for two. If you have ten, ask for twenty. If you have thirty, ask for sixty. If you have sixty, ask for a hundredfold understanding of each parable.
Let me just end with one. Luke 18. The Parable of the Persistent Widow. This is an end time parable. How do we know this? Because in Luke 17, it talks about the coming of the kingdom, and this is very similar to what we just covered in Matthew 24 about the coming of the Son of Man. And when He comes, it will not be in secret. It’s going to be as clear as as you can see lightning in the sky. It’s not hidden. There is no rapture. It’s a Second and final Coming. The whole world sees it, and so many people are not ready. Just like in Noah’s day, many people are not ready, even in the Church. The Church is sleep walking. Christians are not ready. So that’s the context. He’s speaking to His disciples.
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
When Jesus returns, He’s looking for one primary thing? One primary thing, and it’s a real question mark. So much so that He’s worried He may not find it. And what is that? One thing. Faith. Trust. And if this is an end time parable, He is saying, In the end, it’s going to be so difficult that people’s love for Jesus will grow cold. The hatred of the nations will be too much. People will be buckling under the pressure and buying into the system because they’re so hungry. And Jesus wonders, will there be faith on earth when He returns after the final tribulation? The days will have to be cut short for the sake of the elect. Will there be faith on earth? He’s not sure.
The one point for today is don’t give up. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Right now, we’re in a training period. The goal is to grow our persistence. He’s lobbing us easy underhand pitches. Softballs. It’s easy to hit. He’s training us, He’s trying to grow us to be a person who doesn’t give up.
This widow has an adversary, and the adversary is causing so much turmoil for this widow that she cannot wait till morning. She goes to an unrighteous judge’s house at night, and she knocks on the door. And it says, she knocked for a while. Minutes, hours? I’m not sure, but this unrighteous judge eventually gets out of bed because this woman is bothering him. I will not take No for an answer. And I guess because the unrighteous judge opens the door, he gives this widow justice against her adversary that very night. And Jesus’ answer is in v7.
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
An unrighteous judge says, Okay, I am relenting. I will answer your plea. I will give you justice. This is coming from an unrighteous judge. Who is God? He is a righteous Judge. He is not unrighteous. He is a righteous Judge, and won’t God give justice to His elect? Yes, but that’s not all. What do the elect do? They cried out to Him day and night. The second part is, will He delay? No. That’s important.
8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Imagine we are part of the last generation. We’re lacking in food. We’re lacking water. We’re lacking in resources. Some of us are naked, some of us are in prison. Think of how difficult life will be just to make it through one day. What is the Church doing? We’re crying out day and night for justice. Lord, it’s not fair. Just because of what I believe, I’m left out? Just because of what I believe, I’m in prison? Just because of what I believe, I’m hungry. It is not fair, Lord! Come, Lord Jesus, bring justice and righteousness to earth. Righteous Judge, bring justice to earth. And God says, Yes! Even an unrighteous judge grants justice. Since I’m righteous, of course, the answer is a big, fat Yes! Of course, I’m going to give you justice and the important part is — this justice will come speedily. Because to the Lord, 2 Peter 3, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.
Why do we give up so easily? Because we think the Lord is slow. Why do you think He’s slow? We pray for a week. He doesn’t answer, we give up. We think He hasn’t even heard me. He hasn’t even heard this request, He’s not going to answer me. Day and night, I’ve prayed. What if it’s been fifty years? Will we doubt the fact that our Righteous Judge will give us justice? Will we discount what it says in God’s Word, thinking He won’t give justice speedily?
When all the world is like a group of adversaries surrounding us and we ask for justice, how can we develop this type of trust/faith in Jesus when we give up so easily over small and trivial things? He hasn’t answered me for a week. I really wanted this. I give up. You might have prayed your whole life for one thing and it may not come to pass according to your timetable. It may not come to pass the way you think it ought to. God is a righteous Judge. He will make sure His judgments are just and fair. He knows all the parties involved.
We may not see justice right away. We have to let go of our timetable. I think it’s our impatience and it’s our clutching onto our timetable because we think we know best. Or think, this is my life. And we give up. Go back to the other parables. If we are so possessive, so frustrated, so anxious, so stressed, so bored and we give up, then no wonder our faith doesn’t grow. No wonder our trust is never built up because we give up time and time again over trivial matters. Will such a person stand when there are adversaries worldwide and their weapons are directed at you?
When Jesus returns, will there be anybody in the Church with faith? It’s an honest question Jesus asks. We need to build up our faith. And the first way you build up your faith is by not giving up in your prayers. Do not give up. I believe there are so many prayers, as soon as we pray, already the answer is Yes. It may take fifty years for us to see it, but the answer is already given. But just because we don’t see the evidence of the answer doesn’t mean God hasn’t answered or He is slow at answering. When we give up, we miss an opportunity for our trust to grow. Because that’s what faith is — it is trust. We miss an opportunity for our trust to grow.
So look back over the things that you prayed about this year, or the last five years, or ten years. Have you given up? If an unrighteous judge answers with a Yes for justice, do you think a righteous Judge, our Heavenly Father, will not answer? And He won’t just answer a long time later. He answers speedily. As soon as we pray, it’s as good as done. We may not see it in the way that we want, according to our time table. We need to get rid of our timetable. The fact that we’re praying for fifty years, does that erode away your trust in the Lord?
Let’s reclaim a posture of persistence in our prayer for our many requests. Salvation for loved ones. We’ve prayed for twenty years. Thirty years. Let’s not give up. Let’s believe that our righteous Judge has heard our request. Somehow, He will answer them. And it’s a speedy answer. He is not delayed in His response to you.
What is the purpose of the parables? It is to correct large segments of the body of Christ who have a wrong or shallow understanding. So what is our homework? It is to ask for more understanding. Thirty, sixty, one hundred times. We were meant to sit on these parables. Because they are tailor-made for the body of Christ. Jesus is trying to communicate different things to various parts of the body of Christ that are living wrongly, who have wrong understanding or just a shallow understanding. Are you persistent? That is a sign that your trust has grown. Do you give up easily in prayer because you don’t see an answer after a few weeks? That shows a lack of faith and trust.
Let’s surrender our timetables, our timelines. A thousand years, that’s God’s timeline. God is infinite. He is outside of time. God is not slow in answering. We’re just dull in our understanding. God is righteous, and He is quick in responding. We may not see it right away. That doesn’t mean He hasn’t answered. Ask the Lord to cultivate a faith that will endure if we are the last generation on earth. May we train ourselves to grow in our trust, so that when the most difficult tribulation of all of history comes upon us, we do not buckle because we’ve trained ourselves through the good times.
And when Jesus asks, will He find faith on earth — may we say with a resounding Yes, Lord, there’s faith in me! I don’t know about other people, but there’s faith in me, I trust you, I’m enduring, I’m persisting. You are a righteous Judge. My Heavenly Father is a righteous Judge and He answers quickly. You are not delayed in your response.
Father, we trust you. Like the unrighteous judge who granted justice to the widow who’s knocking on the door at night, how much more, you as a righteous Judge, we believe that you will open when we knock on your door! Fifty years? What is that to you? That is a drop in the ocean. You’re not slow. You answer our requests, and in Your eyes, your answers come so quickly. It is just on time.
We trust your timing, Lord. Help us to abandon our time table. We do something for a year and we get stressed or bored or we complain and we make a decision. We don’t ask you, Lord. We don’t ask you even though we prayed that You put us in this position and then we don’t ask you a year in. Father, you’re trying to train us to be tough. You’re trying to toughen us off. We give in too easily. Just a boss yelling at us is enough for us to fall apart. May it not be for us because far more difficult days are coming.
Train us up, Lord. You’re lobbing up softballs for us to hit. These are easy base hits. Train us up, Lord. Help us to grow in our faith and trust in the small, easy, trivial matters, so that when life and death in the end times approaches, we’re not wavering. We’re not being selfish with our resources. We’re generous. We’re meeting the needs of the the least in the body of Christ so that there’s nobody lacking in the body of Christ. We’ve been cultivated to be trusting even with our last meal in our cupboard — to share it with other believers.
Father, as we come to the Lord’s table, we understand we’re in a season of plenty and abundance. We don’t take for granted that we have enough food on the table. We don’t take for granted this precious tradition of nourishing ourselves with the body of Christ. Every time we gather, we remember your death, burial, resurrection. Your sacrifice at Calvary nourishes us, build us up, edifies us in a way that we can’t fully understand. Strengthen us, Lord, for the days ahead. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen