Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Preparing for Sunday July 27th

This week, we come to the end of our exploration of what it means to be disciples of the Kingdom. Our scripture this week is a series of parables of the kingdom from the 13th chapter of Matthew:

31He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old

• What surprised you as you heard these parables? What do these parables have in common and how are they different?

• Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” in place of the phrase “kingdom of God.” Neither phrase refers to heaven or to life after death but instead refer to the reign of God. What do these parables tell us about the nature of God’s kingdom?

• Jesus shared these particular parables with his disciples rather than the crowds. What do these parables say to those who are disciples of Christ? And how are we to bring out both new and old treasure as we reach out and share the gospel?

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