14 January 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 13:31-35, 44-58; 14

Did you miss me? :o) We had an extended break from BSF since our class was cancelled last week due to the snow storm. So this week’s lesson is two-for-one.

We start out by looking at more parables spoken by Jesus to His followers (Matthew 13:31-35, 44-58). Why didn’t Jesus explain these parables? Could it be for our benefit today, that we would seek Him when we are confused about Scripture? There are multiple possible explanations for each parable:
  • The mustard seed could represent the church as it grows into a large tree. Unbelievers, false teachers and opposition (the birds) are mixed among the believers.
  • The yeast could be good or evil. A small amount of yeast goes a long way. A little bit of good goes a long way. With a small amount of faith, Jesus can transform your whole life. But on the flip side, a little bit of evil goes a long way.
  • The pearl could be Jesus or the church. The pearl is worth everything to the seeker. It cost everything for Jesus to purchase us as His church.
  • The new and old treasures could be the New Testament and the Old Testament or new and old experiences in the Christian life.
The people in Nazareth couldn’t believe Jesus had the authority to teach God’s Word. He was just the son of a carpenter. So Jesus didn’t do many miracles there because of the people’s lack of faith.

Next we move on to a story about John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12). Remember from previous lessons that John was Jesus’ cousin, and the one God selected to prepare the way for Jesus. John was put in prison for speaking against Herod’s adulterous relationship with his sister-in-law. John obeyed God completely yet found himself being persecuted.

The Herod in this story is Herod Antipas. He is the son of Herod the Great who attempted to kill baby Jesus. Later Jesus sees him while on trial before His crucifixion. Herod is deceptive, selfish and ambitious. He is intrigued and puzzled by John the Baptist’s teachings but never changes his actions. He divorced his first wife to marry his sister-in-law. John spoke out against Herod’s sin.

Herodias is the granddaughter of Herod the Great. How incredible that she involved her daughter in a terrible crime and her own grudge against John the Baptist.

Herodias’ daughter (named Salome) was possibly between 14 and 16 years old at this time.

Herodias sends her daughter to dance for Herod at his birthday celebration. He is pleased and tells her he will give her anything she asks. Salome asks Herodias what she should request. Herodias tells her to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herod complies in order to save his reputation among his party guests and his kingdom. Herod shows us that it’s never appropriate to choose to save face instead of doing what’s right.

Following John’s death, Jesus reunites with His disciples. They had just returned from their first gospel-spreading journeys. The disciples want to be alone with Jesus, so they get in a boat. But a crowd of peoples meets them on the other shore. While the disciples are tired and hungry and jealous for time with Jesus, Jesus has compassion on the people.

The disciples want to send the people away so they can eat. Jesus asks them what they have. The disciples find a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus instructs the disciples to have the people sit down in groups. Jesus blesses the food and feeds 5,000 men (plus women and children). There are 12 baskets left over -- one for each disciple!

Then Jesus sends the people away because they realize He is the Messiah and they want to make Him their king by force. After Jesus tells his disciples to get in a boat and leave, Jesus prays alone with God. Late in the night, Jesus sees the disciples on the lake in the midst of a storm.

Jesus walks on the water to the boat. The disciples are afraid. Wouldn’t you be afraid, too?! Peter asks to walk on the water with Jesus. But while he’s on the water, the wind distracts Peter. He takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. Peter cries out for Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches out and holds Peter’s hand to help him get back in the boat.

Things to Think About
  • Do I value the kingdom truths, unlike the people of Nazareth? How does my life reflect this?
  • Is Jesus my greatest treasure? Jesus has devoted Himself to me; how devoted am I to Him?
  • Like Herod, am I allowing pride or fear of embarrassment to stand in the way of obeying God?
  • How do I respond when people point out my sin?
  • Am I nursing a grudge against someone?
  • Bring what little I have to Jesus, and He will make it abundant.
  • Have I lost eye contact with Jesus? Am I sinking in my circumstances? Jesus will save me.