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G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150601

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Psalm 80:7-12

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?


Matthew 21:33-41

The Parable of the Tenants

“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. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.

Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”


Notes on the Scripture

Parables and allegory are overlapping descriptions of stories, very similar in meaning with only a shade of difference. In an allegory, the author intends a more direct one-to-one correspondence of the characters and actions in the story, to people and events in the world. The Parable of the Tenants is perhaps the most allegorical of the parables, because Jesus is describing specific people and a specific series of events.

The master is God, the Father and the house is the Kingdom of God. The vineyard is Israel, the Jewish nation in Canaan. In this regard, read the quotation from Psalm 80, just above; Israel as a vine or vineyard was a common metaphor in Jewish literature, and Christ’s pointed meaning become even more clear because of it.

God has built a fence around them in both a literal physical sense — he defined the boundaries of the land he gave to them — and perhaps in a more metaphorical sense: He gave them the law, which separated the Jews from all other people.

The winepress is the bounty of the land, God’s gift of “milk and honey” to the Jews in Canaan, and the tower is the Temple. Having situated his chosen people, he went into another country — we might call this heaven — and left the nation in the care of the “tenants”, the priesthood of Aaron and, later, also the kings. The fruit of this vineyard is righteousness before God; but when God sent his prophets to Israel and Judah, they were killed by the very people who were supposed to be the stewards.

Finally, God sends his Son, who will soon be killed by the same tenants: the high priests. And what will become of those who kill Christ? They will be put to death — and not a death of the body, but the true death that comes only by God’s wrath against the sinful. And he will find new tenants: all those who, whether Jewish or Gentile, will confess that Jesus is the Christ and repent of their sins through his sacrifice.

We can call this a parable or an allegory, but we could also call it prophecy. It accurately predicts the specific events to follow, up until today. We live in a specific age, the age described at the end of this parable, between Christ’s ascension and his coming again.

TRUTH OR TRADITION?  – #323

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Discipleship #5 = Enrollment

Discipleship.

Jesus is the Master Teacher, and His followers are disciples (students, pupils, learners).  In previous articles we discussed the meaning, the demands, the tests, and the rewards of discipleship.  In this article we want to give some thought to enrollment as a pupil.  For a copy of all five articles, write, e-mail, or call.


Enrollment.

How does one become a disciple of Jesus?  What are the entrance requirements?  Credit cannot be given unless one is properly enrolled.  “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name…And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me.”  (Matthew 7:22-23).  They were not properly enrolled.


Attitudes.

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by discussing attitudes essential to being a good disciple:  Spirit of humility – “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” Sorrow for sin – “Blessed are they that mourn…”  Gentle Disposition – “Blessed are the meek…” Thirst for righteousness – “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…”  Spirit of Compassion – “Blessed are the merciful…” Genuine Sincerity – “Blessed are the pure in heart…” Peaceful Nature – “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Willingness to Suffer – “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…” (Matthew 5:3-12). These are attitudes that must be manifested to a degree at enrollment, and that one must be willing to cultivate and develop during the course of study.


Actions.

The question,  “What must I do to enroll as a disciple?”  is equivalent to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”.  Let’s not be deceived by the theories of men, let’s let the Master Teacher tell us what He requires.  We must:

Hear.

Since faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17), hearing is vitally important.  That’s why the Master says:  “Take heed what ye hear,” (Mark 4:24), and “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18).  What and how we hear affects our faith.


Believe.

The Master says:  “For if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24), and “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16).


Repent.

The Master says:  “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5).  In the parable of the man with two sons, the Master said that the son who repented was the one who did the will of his father (Matthew 21:28-31).


Confess.

The Master says:  “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32), and, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11).


Be Baptized.

The Master says:  “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16), and, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).  Must we do everything the Master says to do?

Steer Creek Church of Christ,  3466 Rosedale Road,  Stumptown WV 25267
Minister: Gene H Miller, 3281 Rosedale Road, Shock WV 26638-8410.
Phone:  304.462.0384     E-Mail:  “ghmiller@frontier.com”  Web Site:  steercreekchurchofchrist.org

The Gilmer Free Press

G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150531

The Gilmer Free Press

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Matthew 20:29-34

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.


Notes on the Scripture

This incident seems a bit generic, just another healing, but there is something to it. Let us first cast our eye all the way back to Matthew 1:1-17, and that long boring genealogy that first-time readers skip over. Remember what distinguishes Matthew from the other four gospels. This is the gospel to the Jews. In addition to showing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ who has come to save the world from its ins, Matthew’s purpose is to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the specific Messiah predicted by the prophets, the culmination of all that is in the Jewish Scripture, which is our Old Testament. And, as such, he is the rightful King of Israel.

These two men are not following Jesus around. They are just two blind Jews sitting by the road which he happens to take, as he heads for Jerusalem. Yet they know of him, and what do they call him? “Son of David!” Not Son of Man, not Christ, not Son of God, but Son of David. (In this context, the Greek word for son means “descendant” and “heir” — they used a single word for both meanings. The Jews would call themselves sons of Abraham, if they were blood descendants, because all of them were heirs to the covenant with God.)

Thus this passage shows that a considerable portion of the populace had, by this time, accepted Jesus as the King. They did not fully understand the implications of it, because they did not know the nature of the king they now recognized. Nevertheless, they recognized him, and this legitimation of his kingship is part of the reason he will be executed.

By contrast, Herod had no inherent claim on the throne. He was from a nation south of Canaan and not even a legitimate Jew by birth. He was touchy about this; Judaism taught that David and his heirs were the kings appointed by God to rule the Jews. Herod, a client king imposed on them by Rome, had a built-in cadre of intransigent opposition. Thus, the Herodians will combine forces with their despised enemies, the Sadducees and Pharisees, to rid Israel of Jesus. The Herodians fear him as a political revolutionary, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees fear him (with more truth) as a religious revolutionary.

The men petition Jesus, “Let our eyes be opened.” The double meaning is intentional. They want to be healed physically, of course. But their wording also shows a willingness, even a desire, to be taught. This is what Jesus called “poverty of spirit” in the Sermon on the Mount; it is the first thing he teaches. (Matthew 5:3)

It is the first thing anyone must say before they can begin to find Christ: “Whatever I’m doing now is not working”. Poverty of spirit is a realization that we are blind to something crucially important, combined with a willingness to have our eyes opened. So these verses are telling us, symbolically, that many Jews have come to the point where they are ready to learn and accept a major change in their life; they are ready to receive Christ.

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