The Last Sunday of the Epiphany Season

Also known as The Sunday of the Transfiguration

and known traditionally as Quinquagesima Sunday

February 19, 2023


A Glimpse of the Glory that’s Ahead


     Chippie the singing parakeet never saw it coming.  One moment he was perched peacefully in his cage, and the next moment his happy little world had been turned upside down….and Chippie never had a clue about what had happened.  His problems began when his owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner.    She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and carefully put it into his bird cage.   Suddenly, the phone rang, and – without thinking – she turned to grab the phone.   She had barely said “hello” when she heard “phump.”   Chippie had been sucked into the vacuum.   She gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum cleaner and ripped the dirt bag open.   Amazingly, Chippie was alive….but definitely stunned.   He was covered with dust and soot.   She picked him up and raced to the bathroom, turned on the sink’s faucet and held Chippie under the cold running water.   Realizing that the poor parakeet was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do.   She reached for her hair dryer and blasted her pet with hot air.   Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.   A week later, Chippie sat in his cage and just stared.  His sweet song was all but gone – at least for a while – due to the horrors of his harrowing experience.

     Like Chippie, life doesn’t always treat you and me very well either, does it?  In fact sometimes, we never see the chaos coming until it hits us like a sledge-hammer and threatens to (if it doesn’t….) rob us of all our joy.   At any time in life, but especially in “those” times, it’s critical for you and me to maintain our spiritual “focus” and “perspective.”   We need to keep this thought uppermost in our mind:   that no matter what we experience in this life – good or bad – its duration is going to very short compared to the glorious eternity in heaven that will be ours, by God’s grace, through faith in the redeeming work of Christ for us.    The inspired Apostle Paul will remind us of this in the words that God gave him, and upon which we will reflect in today’s Sermon Text.  Through them our Lord intends to encourage you and me with the assurance that just because it feels like we’re “down” in life, it doesn’t mean we’re really ever “out.”  God-enabling, as we maintain our focus and perspective as Christians, we will always be able look beyond this life’s events and experiences to the glory and joy that…for Jesus’ sake…will be ours one day in heaven.   Confident of that, no matter what happens in our lives, each of us can sing our gracious God’s praises and celebrate in all our circumstances every day here….as we eagerly await the day when we will live with Him eternally in heaven’s glory.

     Here’s an additional thought on which you can meditate:    Over the triple doorways of the cathedral of Milan there are three inscriptions spanning its arches.   Over the one to the right (as one enters the cathedral) is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath it is the legend, “All that which pleases is but for a moment.”   Over the arch to the left is sculptured a cross, and around it are the words, “All that which troubles us is but for a moment.”  But underneath the great central arch-entrance to the main aisle is this  inscription, “That only is important which is eternal.”   It’s important for us to recognize the profound truths found in each of these three statements.  If – better, when – we do, we will be less interested in the passing pleasures of the hour, and more committed to living for that which is permanent and eternal.


Today’s Place on the “Church Calendar”    

     This date on the “Church Calendar” has been known by a variety of names down through the centuries, such as: the Last Sunday in Epiphany, the Last Sunday of “Pre-Lent,”  also as “Quinquagesima Sunday” and as the Sunday of the Transfiguration.   Each name holds significance for us on this somewhat “transitional” Sunday.

     As the traditional “Sunday of the Transfiguration,” this day “transitions” us out of Epiphany season and into the penitential season of Lent.  We do so by recalling the glory and power that belong to Jesus as the Almighty God (and which He voluntarily chose to lay aside during His state of humiliation).  It was His divine glory which our Savior manifested for His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration.  That day He also informed His “inner circle” of apostles that, although He soon would be put to death by His enemies, He would rise three days later as the ultimate Victor over sin, Satan, and the grave.  The occasion of the Transfiguration, then, is a fitting “transition” between Epiphany’s emphasis on Christ revealing His power and glory as the LORD through His message and miracles, and the season of Lent’s dual focus on Christ’s sacrificial, atoning death for our sins. (the midweek services) and Christ’s — and His believing children’s — victories over sin, death and the Devil (on the Sundays of Lent).

     This morning is also, of course, the Final Sunday of the Epiphany Season.  “Epiphany,” as many of you know, means “to reveal” or “to manifest.”  This year, over seven weeks (including today) we’ve examined select portions of God’s Word through which Jesus’ deity has been demonstrated by either His miracles or His preaching.  Often, those Scripture lessons also contained an evangelism/Christian witnessing element – which is another of the Epiphany emphases.   Finally, today is the last Sunday of a 3 Sunday period known as “Pre-Lent.”  Through the ancient (Latin) title of “Quinquagesima,” we are reminded  that there are only fifty days before the Church celebrates Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday (Quinquagesima means “fifty”).  


The Spiritual Significance of Jesus’ Transfiguration For Us

     In the Vatican Art Gallery in Rome hangs the great artist Raphael’s last painting – which some think is his greatest work of art.   It is entitled “The Transfiguration.”  In the uppermost part Raphael pictured the transfigured form of Jesus high upon a mountain top, with Moses on the left and Elijah on His right.  On the next level down are the three disciples who accompanied Jesus that day:  Peter, James and John.  You can see that they have been awakened recently, as well as that they are shielding their eyes from Jesus’ blinding brilliance.   Way below, at the bottom of the mountain, there is a poor demon-possessed boy, his mouth hideously drawn, suggesting that he is wildly raving and raging.   At his side is his desperate, somewhat discouraged father.   Surrounding those two are the rest of the Lord’s disciples, some of which are pointing upward to the glowing figure of Christ, Who – obviously – will be the boy’s only answer.  In this great artistic work, Raphael brilliantly captured both a glimpse of Christ’s glory as God, and the overwhelming contrast between that glorious moment on the Mount of Transfiguration and the sin-troubled world waiting below…..a troubled world to which Christ would return  in order to complete His glorious mission of reconciling fallen mankind to the LORD through Good Friday’s cross and Easter’s open grave.


Today’s Worship Service and Scripture Lessons    

            The traditional thrust of this Sunday is to recall the majestic way through which Jesus displayed His divine power and authority as the only true God during a unique event in His public ministry:  the transfiguration.   The words of each of today’s hymns attempt to capture the apostle Peter’s expression of joy at being in the presence not only of Moses and Elijah, but especially His “transfigured Lord.”   In today’s Gospel Lesson (also our Sermon Text)  Peter wanted to stay on that mountaintop, basking in the glory of God, far removed from the mundane matters and wearying pressures of daily life.  But, just as Jesus had to come down from the mountaintop in order to continue His mission that would inevitably lead to Him climbing one more mountain, Calvary, on which He would suffer death by crucifixion to carry out His mission of saving sinful mankind, so Peter had to come down from the mountain and go back to the less-awesome (and arguably more arduous) side of life.  At times each of us would also like to set aside our responsibilities and get away from all the headaches, hassles, and heartbreaks of life by sequestering ourselves away in a more secure and less threatening spiritual environment where all we have to do is commune with the Lord.   Granted, that day will come when we are with our glorious Lord forever in heaven.  However, in the meantime, like Peter whose faith was strengthened through being an eyewitness to Jesus’ glorious transfiguration (Peter later speaks about this to encourage others in today’s Epistle Lesson), we must leave the spiritual safety of this house of worship later today and go back out into the world in which we live in order to work for our Lord here on earth — keeping our hearts and minds firmly focused on our glorious Lord and His promises to us.  Most important we must remember (as Peter did) that we never come down from this mountaintop alone, nor do we traverse the other mountains of life all by ourselves;  Jesus is always with us, promising to cheer and direct us with His power and through His Word, and to lovingly support us as we go through every change and challenge of life.  In today’s Old Testament Lesson we see God’s glory revealed to an exhausted, discouraged Elijah who was running for his life from Jezebel’s death threats, and who was ready to just give up and die.   The LORD encourages Elijah to continue in his work as a prophet, coming to Elijah – not in an impressive earthquake or violent wind (as one might expect) but – through a quiet, small voice.  So, today, many people wrongly expect to be spiritually impressed by some display of God’s awesome power – and so miss out on the presence and power of the LORD as He comes to them through the simple, quiet voice of Holy Scripture. 

     Finally, through today’s Children’s Lesson, using the example of a welding helmet with its protective visor, we’ll talk about how Jesus Displayed His Glory as the True God.   Part of why Jesus revealed His glory before His disciples was so that their faith in Him as the true God would be strengthened.   Jesus knew that in the coming weeks their faith would be tested as they would watch Him suffer and die for them (and for us).  He also knew that farther in the future their faith would need to be strong because of the sufferings they would endure for Him as they served Him by telling the world about Him .   Like Peter, James and John we need a strong faith in Christ as we serve Him, and the lesson of Jesus’ glorious transfiguration can help make our faith in Him as our God and Savior stronger and more certain.




Prayer Upon Entering Church    Heavenly Father, You showed Your grace by bringing me to faith in Christ through the work of Your Holy Spirit, and then by giving me the blessing of being called Your child.  Though what I offer You today is so small, compared to all You have done for me, please accept my humble offerings of praise and thanksgiving, as well as my gifts.  Also, Lord, help me gladly hear and take to heart the Good News of salvation from sin for me and all people through faith in Your Son, my Savior.  Renew and invigorate me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day, that I might live a confident life of faith and love to Your glory,  and that I might share, by all possible means, at every opportunity, the same Good News of salvation through Christ which has filled my life with peace and purpose.  Amen.




The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831




Prayer upon entering the sanctuary                                                                                                                                               Pre-service Music


We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


Today’s Choral Selection                                                                                                         “Christ Begins”


We stand and we watch on the bank, wide-eyed.  Water runs

and all heaven opens wide, and a voice like thunder replies,

Refrain   Here’s my Prophet, my Priest, my King,     a Light in the dark, Christ steps in;

Here’s my Savior, my God, my King,  the time has come, Christ begins.

Mary’s whispering, but it’s not the time.   Six jars are filled

with the finest wine.  Tell me, Who is this by our side?    Refrain


See the sun out-shined on the hill and hide.   Clothes like lightning white, heaven opens wide and a voice like thunder replies, Refrain


We stand, gathered round on the mountain-side.   Watching the

closing clouds hide Him from our yes;   with a voice united we cry     Refrain


After which, at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son,  and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.”



The Psalm for Today                                                                                                                            Psalm 8



  • O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! Set this glory of Yours above the heavens.




  • From the lips of little children and nursing babies You have established strength because of Your foes, to put a stop to the enemy and the avenger.




  • Whenever I look up at Your heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place – what is man that You remember him, the Son of Man that You pay attention to Him?




  • Nevertheless, You make Him suffer need, apart from God for a little while, but Your crown Him with glory and honor.          




  • You make Him the Ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under His feet: all flocks and cattle, and even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea, which pass through the currents of the seas.



  • O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!


After which the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                       “Christ’s Majesty Displayed, How Fair!”

                                                                                                         (Sung to the melody,    “From Heav’n Above To Earth I Come”;   cwh 2001)


Christ’s majesty displayed, how fair!     A glimpse of what the Church shall share.

His glory on the mount He showed    When brighter than the sun, He glowed.


From age to age the Word declares:    To Peter, James and John, all there

With Moses and Elijah….He    Revealed His heav’nly deity.


The Father’s voice, from up above   Proclaims “This is the Son I love,

With all He does I am well-pleased.   Let all unto His words give heed.”


This radiant Lord, God’s sinless Son,    Upon the cross the vict’ry won –

For sinners He His life laid down    To earn for us our heav’nly crown.


With shining face and bright array    Christ manifests for us today

The glory of His dwelling place   Which we’ll enjoy through faith, by grace.    Amen.

After which the Congregation will rise for


The Opening Blessing


P:                            The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.


C:   And also with you.



The Confession of Sins


Pastor              God, our Heavenly Father, invites us to come into His presence and to worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us  now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness for all our sins.


Congregation   Holy and merciful Father, +   I confess that I am by nature sinful   +   and that I have disobeyed You in my  thoughts, words, and actions;    +    I have done what is evil in Your

sight   +   and have failed to do what is good.   +    For this I know that I deserve Your punishment,   +    both now and for eternity.     +     But I am truly sorry for all my sins,     +   and trusting in the perfect life   +   and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, +   I plead:    +  God have mercy on me, a sinner.


Pastor              Our gracious Lord and Master has shown us His mercy:   He has given His one and only Son to save us from all our sins.     And  now, carrying out my office as a called servant of Christ,  and according

to His command and authority,   I forgive you all your sins   in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. May the peace of God rest upon all of you.   


Congregation   Amen.



Lord Have Mercy


P:         For all that we need in life, and for the wisdom to use all Your gifts with gratitude and joy, hear our prayer, O Lord.


            C:         (sung)   Lord have mercy


P:         For the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from Your love and for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil, hear our prayer, O Christ:


            C:   (Sung)   Christ have mercy.


P:         For the well-being of Your holy Church in all the world and for those who offer here their worship and praise, hear our prayer, O Lord


            C:   (Sung)    Lord have mercy.


P:         Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power, and keep us in Your tender care:


            C: (sung)   Amen.


P:         The works of the Lord are great and glorious;   His name is worthy of praise.



(Sung)  O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.

Almighty God, merciful Father,

 Your crown our life with Your love.

You take away our sin;    You comfort our spirit;

You make us pure and holy in Your sight.

You did not spare Your only Son, but gave Him up for us all.

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth.

O Son of God, eternal Word of the Father,

You came to live with us;   You made Your Father known;

You washed us from our sins in Your own blood.

You are the King of glory;   You are the Lord!

O Lord, our Lord, How glorious is Your name in all the earth



Our Prayer for “Quinquagesima” Sunday


Lord Jesus Christ, +   You are a safe refuge in this troubled world.    +   In Your Word You assure us    +   that You are our Great High Priest   +   Who offered Yourself as the supreme + once-for-all-time sacrifice  +   to deliver us from the curse of our sins   +   from the fear of death, +  and from the Devil’s power.    +   In Your mercy You have exalted us   +   to be members of Your Church now and forever.    +     Precious Savior, as we mediate upon Your Word today,  —- through the Holy Spirit’s working   +   fill our hearts with the desire to always love what is right   +   and to avoid what is evil in Your sight.   +   Enable us to follow You  obediently   +  and to serve You faithfully all our lives   +   until that day comes   +   when You call our earthly pilgrimage to a close   +   and graciously grant us the fullness   +   of everlasting life and glory in heaven with You.  +     Hear and answer our prayer, dear Lord,   +   as we offer it in Your name.   +   and for Your sake.  +   Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated for


We Hear God’s Word


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                                                                   I Kings 19:1-19


Then Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the fact that he had killed all their prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to say to Elijah, “May the gods punish me severely and even double it, if by this time tomorrow I have not made your life like one of theirs.”    3 Elijah was afraid, and he ran for his life. He went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. There he sat down under a broom tree, where he prayed that he would die. He said, “I’ve had enough, Lord. Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 Then he lay down and went to sleep under the broom tree.


Suddenly an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”   6 Then he looked around, and near his head there was a loaf of bread baking on coals and a jar of water, so he ate and drank, and then he lay down again.


7 Then the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, because the journey is too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank. Then, with the strength gained from that food, he walked for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 He came to a cave and spent the night there.


Then the word of the Lord suddenly came to him, saying, “Why are you here, Elijah?”   10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”   11 Then the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is passing by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains and shattered rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.   After the wind came an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.   12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.   After the fire there was a soft, whispering voice.


13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”   14 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.”   15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came and go to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you get there, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 You will also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill, and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I have preserved in Israel seven thousand whose knees have not bent to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him.”



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                    II Peter 2:12-21


12 That is why I intend always to keep reminding you of these things, even though you already know them and are established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to keep you wide awake by reminding you, 14 because I know that the putting off of my tent is going to happen soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 I will also make every effort so that after my departure you always have a reminder of these things.


16 To be sure, we were not following cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the powerful appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when the voice came to him from within the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We heard this voice, which came out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.


19 We also have the completely reliable prophetic word. You do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts, 20 since we know this above all else: No prophecy of Scripture comes about from someone’s own interpretation. 21 In fact, no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit.



The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                           Mark 9:2-3


2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain where they were alone by themselves. There he was transfigured in front of them. 3 His clothes became radiant, dazzling white, whiter than anyone on earth could bleach them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them together with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.


5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say because they were terrified.  


7 A cloud appeared and overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”


8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.  9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.





The Nicene Creed


 I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,  and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God,  Light of Light.  Very God of Very God.  Begotten, not made.  Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made;  Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven   And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary   And was made man;  And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.  He suffered and was buried;  And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures;  And ascended into heaven,  And sitteth on the right hand of the Father;   And he shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;  Whose Kingdom shall have no end.   And I believe in the Holy Ghost,  The Lord and Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,  Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets.  And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church.  I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins,  And I look for the resurrection of the dead,  And the life of the world to come.  Amen.


after which the Congregation may be seated


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                     Mark 9:2-3


2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain where they were alone by themselves. There he was transfigured in front of them. 3 His clothes became radiant, dazzling white, whiter than anyone on earth could bleach them.


              Jesus Reveals His Glory as the True God



The Sermon Hymn                                                                                    “Jesus, Take Us To The Mountain”

                                                                                                                                            sung to the melody of “Come, O Come, Life-Giving Spirit”

                                                       text by Jaroslav Vajda,  CPH 1991     used with permission, # A715676


Jesus take us to the mountain,    Where, with Peter, James and John

We are dazzled by Your glory,   Light as blinding as the sun.

There prepare us for the night, —  By the vision of that sight.


What do You want us to see there    That Your close companions saw?

Your divinity revealed there    Fills our humble hearts with awe.

Clothed in flesh like ours You go, —    To defeat our deadliest foe.


What do You want us to hear there     That Your dear disciples heard?

Once again the voice from heaven    Says of the incarnate Word:

“Listen, listen, ev’ryone;      This is My beloved Son!”


Take us to that other mountain    Where we see You glorified,

Where You shouted, “It is finished!”

   Where for all the world You died.

Hear the stunned centurion:   “Truly this was God’s own Son!”


We who have beheld Your glory,   Risen and ascended Lord,  

Cannot help but tell the story,   All that we have seen and heard.

Say with Peter, James and John:   “You are God’s beloved Son!”     Amen      


The Pre-Sermon Salutation


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ!  And grace and peace to you from Him Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.  Amen.

The Sermon Text                                                                                                                                                          Mark 9:2-9

                                                                                                                                                                                                            (Today’s Gospel Lesson)


A Glimpse of the Glory That’s Ahead


afterward, the Congregation  will REMAIN SEATED for the blessing


The Post-Sermon Blessing


Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever.  Amen.



We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.    However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address  (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar for

The Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday


We praise You, O Father, for the precious gift of Your Son and for His glorious transfiguration on the holy mountain. Grant that with the eyes of faith we may behold the radiance of His heavenly beauty, the image of Your own divine Being, and that we might worship You both, along with the Spirit in sincerity and truth.    Give us the firm resolve to listen to Your Son, the joyful readiness to believe His promises, and the spirited willingness to heed His every commandment.  Let the appearance of Moses and Elijah show us that blessed are the dead who die in faith, blessed are they who live in Christ, and blessed are all who believe, for they shall know the power of His resurrection and that, as Paul wrote, one day we shall be “changed from glory into glory.    O God and Father, let Your Holy Spirit find a dwelling in our poor bodies and transform our weak, sinful lives into the radiance of goodness, purity, and righteousness. Transform our minds by the renewing grace that flows from You. Transform our vision, our understanding, our judgments, yes, our whole persons, to reflect the mind of Christ. Take our sicknesses, pains, wounds, and hurts; take our disappointments, defeats, and despair; take our sorrows and mourning; take our pride and anger; take our selfishness and envy; take our hate and fear; take all these, O Father, and transform them by the Spirit’s influence in the Means of Grace into noble impulses, pure motives, kind thoughts, constructive deeds, high courage, and true faith.   Hear us also, Lord, as we now bring You our private petitions.

Silent prayer.

Finally, look upon Your Church, O Lord, here and in every place, and grant that we and all who bear the name of Christ may daily offer up to You the acceptable sacrifices of repentance, thanksgiving, and loving obedience. Hear our prayer and by Your mercy grant our petitions for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior, in Whose name we also pray…..

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.

We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper


P:         The Lord be with you.


C:         (sung)  And also with you.



P:         Lift up your hearts.


C:         (sung) We lift them up to the Lord.



P: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God


C:         (sung) It is right to give Him thanks and praise.


P:         It is truly good and right that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Whose way John the Baptist prepared when he called people to repentance and pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.  Therefore with all the saints on earth and hosts of heaven, we praise Your holy name and join their glorious song:

(Sung)  Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts.    The whole earth is full of Your glory

You are my God and I will exalt You.   I will lift You up for You have become my salvation.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts.     The whole earth is full of Your glory


The Words of Institution


P:         “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”


C:         (sung)    Amen.


O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world;    Have mercy on us.

O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world,    Have mercy on us.

O Christ, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world;   Grant us Your peace.   Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated.


The Exhortation Regarding the Lord’s Supper                                                                                               


The Distribution of the Sacramental Elements



(Please read the following if you have not spoken with    our Pastor about taking communion.  Thank you.)



We offer the Lord’s Supper this morning only to those individuals who are confirmed,   communicant members of Grace Lutheran congregation, or of a member congregation of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.    To our Guests today,  we appreciate your presence among us and celebrate the faith in Christ which we share with you.   However, we ask that you will please respect our communion practice (see above).   A brochure further explaining the Biblical basis for our Communion practice is available on the table in the rear of this worship area.  We encourage you both to examine it – especially the Biblical references within it, and also to speak with our Pastor after the service (at your convenience) so that you might better understand and appreciate our Biblically-based “Close Communion” practice.   Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and for your presence here among us this morning.




Distribution Hymn                                        Hymn 313 Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior”


1 Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior,   Turned away God’s wrath forever;

By his bitter grief and woe    He saved us from the evil foe.


2 As his pledge of love undying,   He, this precious food supplying,

Gives his body with the bread  And with the wine the blood he shed.


3 Jesus here himself is sharing;   Take heed how you are preparing,

For if you do not believe,   Judgment instead you shall receive.


4 Useless would be Jesus’ passion    If salvation you could fashion.

Do not come if you suppose   You need not him who died and rose.


5 Christ says, “Come, all you that labor,   And receive my grace and favor;

Those who feel no pain or ill   Need no physician’s help or skill.”


6 Then hold fast with faith unshaken    That this food is to be taken

By the souls who are distressed,   By hearts that long for peace and rest.


7 Praise the Father, who from heaven    Unto us such food has given

And, to mend what we have done,    Gave into death his only Son.


8 If your heart this truth professes    And your mouth your sin confesses,

Surely you will be his guest   And at his banquet ever blest.


The Thanksgiving


(Sung)   Thank the Lord and sing His praise.      Tell everyone what He has done.

Let all who seek the Lord rejoice, and proudly bear His name.   

He renews His promises and leads His people forth in joy,

With shouts of thanksgiving, Alleluia!   Alleluia!


We Leave with the Lord’s Blessing


The Closing Prayer


Hear the prayer of Your people, O Lord, that the lips which have praised You here may glorify You in the world, that the eyes which have seen the coming of Your Son may long for His coming again, and that all who have received in his true body and blood the pledge of Your forgiveness may be restored to live a new and holy life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


C:         (sung)     Amen.


The Benediction


P:         Brothers and sisters, go in peace.   Live in harmony with one another.   Serve the Lord in gladness.


The Lord bless you and keep you    The Lord make His face to shine upon you

 and be gracious unto you.    The Lord look upon you with favor, and grant you His peace.   


C:         (sung)              Amen.   Amen.  Amen.

The Closing Hymn    Hymn 95 “How Good, Lord, To Be Here”


1 How good, Lord, to be here!   Your glory fills the night;

Your face and garments, like the sun,   Shine with unborrowed light.


2 How good, Lord, to be here   Your beauty to behold,

Where Moses and Elijah stand,   Your messengers of old.


3 Fulfiller of the past,   Promise of things to be,

We hail your body glorified   And our redemption see.


4 Before we taste of death,   We see your kingdom come;

We long to hold the vision bright   And make this hill our home.


5 How good, Lord, to be here!   Yet we may not remain;

But since you bid us leave the mount,   Come with us to the plain.



Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-service music




Last Week At Grace:                                                                                                   Sunday Worship Attendance:   68  (13 online)

Bible Class Attendance: 23 (14 online)     Tuesday Class: 12

Wednesday Classes:    4 Men;   4 Women

Budgetary Offerings:   $ 2926.23      Benevolence:   $1000


Serving Us Next Sunday                                                                            Elders:   Steve Stone, Rick Tragasz

Altar Guild:   Mary Karloski, Vicki Walker

Ushers:   Taylor Ashley, John Johnson, John Wambold


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today              Morning Worship with the Lord’s Supper, 9:30 a.m. 

                        Fellowship, 10:45 a.m.            Sunday School/Bible Class, 11:05

Monday          Church Secretary in the Office, 10 a.m. to mid-afternoon

Tuesday          Morning Bible Class, 10 a.m.

Wednesday    Fellowship Meal, 6 p.m.

                        Ash Wednesday Worship, with the Lord’s Supper, 7 p.m.

Saturday         Outreach Visits, 10 a.m.

Sunday           Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m,               Fellowship, 10:40am  

                        Bible Class/Sunday School 11:05am                                                          Confirmation, 12:15


Birthday This Week:                Feb 23 – Halei Ferguson


WE’RE LOOKING FOR A FEW MORE VOICES…. … (perhaps yours???)  to be a part of our church choir….particularly as we prepare for our upcoming Lenten and Easter services.   Whether you’d be willing to try singing with the choir for a just a rehearsal to see if you’d like it (we normally rehearse on the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Sundays of each month, from 8:40 a.m. to 9:10 a.m.), or for the upcoming Lent and Easter season, or even longer, you can speak to Debbie Huebner (Debbie can even give you an at-home practice recording), or you can come to our next rehearsal (Sunday, March 12th).   If you think God might have given you the singing ability, and/or if you have the interest, we’d be honored to have you as a part of our church choir.  






            We hope that you’ll make it a “priority” in the middle of your busy week (and whose week isn’t “busy” in one way or another?) to join us – beginning this Wednesday evening, February 22nd, and continuing through Wednesday, March 29th  – for a series of six midweek evening worship services.    The purpose of these special Lenten services to assist our members and friends in their spiritual preparations for the commemoration of our Savior’s death and the Easter celebration of His resurrection.   The theme for this year’s services and sermons is “Personalities of the Passion.”  We’ll be considering the stories of Caiaphas, Judas, Nicodemus, Peter, Pilate and John and their involvement in Jesus’ sufferings and death for us.   Also, please remember that this coming Wednesday evening’s service (Ash Wednesday) will also include a celebration of our Lord’s Supper.  

            You are also invited to join us each Wednesday evening during Lent, from 6 p.m. on for our weekly, “come-as-you-are” fellowship meals.  This year we hope many of you will be able to join us for both the evening worship service and our fellowship meals beforehand.  They’ll start at 6 p.m., but we’ll have food available until 6:45 p.m. or so.    We be asking for volunteers to help provide soup, sandwiches, other items, and even some dessert for each meal.  A sign up sheet for this can be found in the church entryway.  It will also be passed around in the gym during today’s fellowship and Bible study time.

            Finally, many churches do not offer worship services like our midweek Lenten services (and so many people are not at all familiar with the reasons and benefits behind these services).  These present us, then, with something of a unique outreach opportunity to invite others to participate with us in one (or more) of our Lenten worship services.   Also, these midweek services give us an opportunity to invite people to worship with us who ordinarily have to work on Sunday.   Please pray about whom you might encourage to attend a midweek  service, and then offer that person/family your invitation (maybe even a ride) to worship with us.

Grace Lutheran Church

Adult Bible Study, 2023


The Parables of our Lord

Divine Truths From Real Life Stories

The Role And Interpretation Of Parables

What is a parable?

Definition of a parable

It is…….
– not a fable
– not a myth
– not a proverb
– A parable, by common definition, is an aid for teaching.


Many of us also have learned this definition:   “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

Look up the following Scripture references. In what way were parables effective in the given situations?


            *           Luke 20:1-19

            *           2 Samuel 12:1-8

            *           Luke 14:25-33



How Jesus Used Parables

Look up Matthew 13:31,32.   There’s no explanation of what this short parable means.   Why did Jesus often speak in parables rather than simply stating the facts?



  • Jesus used parables not to mask the truth, but to cause His hearers to search for it.



  • Parables are more interesting than “abstract” theological discussions. They are also easier for people to relate to, and to remember.




  • Jesus used parables in discourse with His enemies so that they would have no clear statements from Him to use against Him. Look up Mark 4:10-12.  


  • For those who were hardened in their refusal to acknowledge the truth of Jesus’ message and identity, parables served to hide the truth from them and act as a judgment against them.   Look up Matthew 21:43-46. Who is Jesus addressing here? (see v.23)     What is He clearly saying to them?    Why did He use a parable to make this point?


The Gospel of John has no parables. Mark has only one that is unique to his book.  The majority of our parables, then, come from Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels.   A few are also found in the Old Testament.



The  Interpretation Of Parables

The following principles should guide us as we seek to interpret the parables of Jesus:

  1. The parables are not merely charming little stories about the “way things always are.” They explain ways in which God operates, or ways in which He expects His followers to live for Him. Matthew 13:11 tells us that parables explain certain aspects of the Kingdom of God to us; namely, God’s just and gracious dealings with sinful man.  Also, keep in mind the main thought or leading idea of the parable as given by Christ himself, or the context.
  2. Always pay careful attention to the immediate context of the parable.Parables typically answer a question or address a particular situation that its hearers are facing.   What prompted Jesus to speak the parables offered in the following references?
  • Luke 7:41-50



  • Matthew 12:29
  • Luke 10:25-37


  1. All the features of the parable are subordinate to the leading idea. The interpretation of details must fit the main thrust of the story. Consequently, not every part of a parable needs to be interpreted. Some parts simply supplement the story.    The parable itself should be studied along with the context to determine what is the one main point at issue (this is often called the “tertium”).   For example in Luke 18:1-8, what might you conclude about God if you focused primarily on the description of the judge?   What, however, is clearly the main point of this parable?




  1. Parables are not to be used to establish doctrine. Parables support other clear doctrinal passages.
  2. Finally, the interpreter should be familiar with the history, geography, culture and customs of Bible times to properly interpret the parables. Familiarity with Jewish marriage customs, the practice of wine making, the art of farming in ancient Israel, etc. will help us to better understand the parables.

Parables:    Divine Truths From Real Life Stories

            Section One: The Work And Worth Of The Gospel

(The sower & the seed;   the weeds;

the mustard seed and yeast;   the hidden treasure/pearl)

            Section Two: God’s Great Expectations

(The two debtors;   the lost sheep;   the unmerciful servant;

the good Samaritan;     the tower builder & warring king;

the shrewd manager;   the unworthy servants;   the 10 minas)

            Section Three: By Grace Alone; By Faith Alone
            (The searching shepherd/woman/father;   the persistent friend;

the pharisee and the publican;   the laborers in the vineyard)

Section Four: Preparation For Judgment
            (The rich fool;   the narrow door;    the seats at a wedding feast;

the great banquet;    the wedding banquet;   the net;

foolish & wise virgins;   the tenants)


Section Five:   Miscellaneous and Lesser-Known  Parables

(The Parable of The Patched Garment And The Wineskins;   Children In The Marketplace;

Parables Proving The Person Of Christ;   The Empty House;   The Owner of the House;   Clean and Unclean;   Lost Sheep and Dogs;   The Yeast of the Pharisees;    The Rock and the Keys;    The Lamp of the Body;   

The Fruitless Fig Tree;   The Wise and Foolish Builders)




Section One:    The Work and Worth of the Gospel

The Sower, The Seed, And The Soils

(Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:2-20; Luke 8:4-15)

To understand this parable, note that farmers in Jesus’ day simply broadcast the seed on untilled ground and then scratched the seed into the soil with a crude plow.   A footpath of soil hardened by foot traffic, often ran around the perimeter of the field.

This parable and others seek to explain the nature of and operation of the “Kingdom of God” or “The Kingdom of Heaven”. What do these passages tell us about God’s kingdom?




  • Luke 17:20,21
  • John 18:36,37
  • Romans 14:17

We define “God’s Kingdom” as his gracious rule in our hearts through his Word.

What four results followed the farmer’s sowing of his field? (Mark 4:2-8)

Read Mark 4:10-12.  For Jesus’ enemies, what purpose did these parables serve?    What “secret” did the disciples know that enables them to understand the parables?

In verses 13-20, Jesus explains this parable to his disciples.     In the first case, Satan takes away the word before it has a chance to sink in.     Give examples of how the devil can take the Word away.

In the second case, why would someone “receive it [the Word] with joy, but have no root”?    What are some of the issues/things in life that, spiritually-speaking, cause a shallow root system that, in turn, leads to the rather rapid death of a faith that initially seems to thrive?    


Agree or Disagree……..A person like this person never had genuine faith in the first place.


In the third case, explain how worries and mixed-up priorities can choke out God’s Word in human hearts.

In the last case, what does Jesus mean when he says that the Word produces different amounts of fruit in people’s lives?   Why is it dangerous to assume that all believers should produce the same amount of fruit in their lives?

This parable not only speaks to four types of hearers, but describes each of us individually as well. In what way is that true?

Our mission purpose, as a Christian Church, is to make and maintain disciples of Christ.   How does a proper interpretation of this parable help us understand what we are to do?

The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)

On the basis of the previous parable, should we assume that some people are to receive credit for their salvation because they were “good soil” and accepted the Word whereas others rejected it?   This parable shows us that the life that comes from a seed of grain, and spiritual life that comes from the seed of God’s Word, are both mysteries.

What warning can we take from this parable when we are tempted to tamper with or dress up God’s Word to make it more appealing to human hearts?
What comfort can we take from this parable as we seek to sow God’s Word in human hearts with sometimes fumbling efforts or little outward “success”?

The Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43)

Jesus uses another familiar illustration from the agricultural world. How did Jesus explain this parable? (vv.36-43)

Why is it dangerous to say, “We’re going to get rid of all those people in our congregation who act like unbelievers”?

How does this parable help us to understand and deal with the disturbing fact that there are hypocrites even in Christian congregations?


Often we wonder “why” things in this world are so evil.   Verse 28 gives a succinct answer……

The Mustard Seed and the Yeast (Matthew 13:31-35)

The mustard plant here pictured is not the 18 inch plant that grows in our garden. The oriental mustard plant can reach the height of a tree one year from planting (J. Dwight Pentecost, in his book The Parables Of Jesus, claims that he has a picture of a one-year-old mustard tree, 32 feet high!)

Knowing Satan’s opposition to God’s kingdom, an understandable question is “What will become of God’s kingdom if Satan so vigorously seeks to destroy it?”     How does this parable answer that question?

The Bible speaks of the Gospel as something considered by many to be “foolishness”, “weak”, and “lowly” (1 Corinthians 1:27,28).    For example, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are regarded by many as mere rituals or symbols.    When we speak about these Sacraments as “Means of Grace” through which God powerfully works, we are often met with skepticism and even ridicule.   What evidence do we have, however, that these things are not as weak as they seem?

The parable of the Yeast in the dough focuses in on the way in which the Gospel works, which is similar to the working of yeast amid dough.   Yeast works internally, and yet its work is all-pervasive and is readily observable.

How does this parable speak to the person who assumes (or presumes), “I can love however I want, as long as I believe”?

The Hidden Treasure And The Pearl of Great Price

(Matthew 13:44,45)

It was not uncommon for people in Bible times to bury part of their wealth as a means of keeping it secure in times of war or political unrest.    People in ancient times placed an unusually high value on pearls, similar to how we might value gold, diamonds, or other precious gems today.

Does this parable teach that God’s kingdom is something that we obtain by giving up other things?   (See Isaiah 55:1,2)

Does this parable teach us to hoarde the Gospel once we find it? (Mark 16:15)

This parable DOES teach us something about our attitude toward the Gospel. Namely, what?




Section Two:    God’s Great Expectations

The Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50)

The basis for this parable is an incident that occurs during a dinner Jesus attends at the home of a Pharisee named Simon.

What makes you wonder about the sincerity of this man’s invitation to Jesus? And if he did not invite Jesus out of true respect, why did he invite him?

The woman who enters Simon’s home is called “a woman who had lived a sinful life.” She was probably a prostitute. Pharisaic law made being touched by such a woman an act of defilement.

In addition, what kind of rabbi would accept an expensive perfume gift when it was undoubtedly purchased with sin-tainted money!? Why did Jesus allow this sorry, sobbing scandalous human being to even get near him?

What spiritual point does the parable make? What should it particularly have meant to Simon?

It was common hospitality in Eastern cultures to provide water for guest to wash their feet, to greet guests with a polite kiss, and to anoint the guest’s head with oil (considered by most to be an act symbolizing joy and festivity). Not only did Simon neglect to do this, but this sinful woman – in contrast — went beyond what was customary.

Do we ever consider ourselves less in need of forgiveness than others?   When?   Why?

In what ways do we view certain sinners with disgust?   How should we be viewing them?

How would you have reacted to that woman?   Would you have been embarrassed?   Would you have thought she went overboard?    When does showing love for Jesus become excessive?    What is easier- To fall short of showing love for Jesus or to go too far?


The Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:10-14)

What was on the disciples’ minds that leads us into chapter 18? (See verse 1) What does this question tell us about their attitude and character?

Verses 10-14 contrast the disciple’s attitude and goals with God’s. The angels who “always see the face of my Father in heaven” rejoice whenever a sinner repents.  What is Jesus’ point in this verse?

Contrast the attitude of the heavenly Father in this parable with that of the disciples in verse 1.

How does this parable influence how we look at others? How we look at ourselves? How we approach our ministry as a church and as individuals?

The Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35)

Jesus had just finished discussing how to deal with someone who has sinned against us. Peter has a question that seems quite natural, given the preceding conversation. “How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?”


We need to give Peter credit for the right motives, but the wrong mechanics.   Pharisaic law demanded that one forgive two times, or three times if you wanted to exceed the standard.   Peter also knew the law of love should prompt a Christian to be more forgiving than that. Even more than twice as forgiving. It seems he was anticipating Jesus to give him an answer somewhere between 3 and 7.    


Note that Jesus’ use of the number “seventy times seven” was a Jewish idiom and was understood to mean an innumerable amount.  

10,000 talents = millions of dollars
A few hundred denarii = A few dollars


What are some excuses we use to justify being unforgiving?  

The parable gives us the reason why we are expected to forgive innumerable times.    What is the number one motivating factor that makes the victim of a sin able to forgive the sinner. see Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13

“he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold . . .” The selling of a debtor who was not able to pay was not unusual in ancient times.     “I will pay back everything.” A flat-out lie. Don’t many people think the same thing when it comes to salvation? Good works cannot pay God back for sins in our life.

The Roman Catholic church uses v. 34 as a proof passage for purgatory. Why is that not a legitimate interpretation?

What’s wrong (and dangerous) with this statement? “I just can’t forgive him/her for what he/she has done!”


The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)

To understand why Jesus spoke this parable, read verses 25-29. Why did this expert in the law ask the question, “And who is my neighbor?”      What’s wrong with the lawyer’s question?


Look at Deuteronomy  6:5 and  Leviticus 19:18.     What is emphasized in both passages?    Why the emphatic repetition of “all?”   What will prompt such love?  (See I John 4:1)


In verse 28, the Greek word for “do this” means “keep on doing, never fail, never give up, never slip, never let go.”   What is Jesus’ point in telling the lawyer, “Do this and you will live?”   (Also, see Galatians 3:21)

Jesus’ parable is His answer to the man’s question. To understand this parable better, we want to note the following:




  • A priest was the highest and most repsected religious leader in Israel.
  • The Levites were temple workers; both the priest and the Levite therefore could well be considered as model, God-fearing Jews.
  • The Samaritans and Jews hated each other; the Jews considered the Samaritans as half-breed low-lifes because they were of mixed blood (Jewish and native Canaanite); Samaritans considered the Jews to be arrogant and overbearing. A Jew would have nothing to do with a Samaritan, and vice versa.


What reasons might that Priest and Levite have for not stopping to help that wounded man?     Could their “reasons” be viable, spiritually speaking?  


The main point of the parable is stated in verse 36.   What is it?

Many misinterpret this parable. They assume that Jesus was teaching us to be kind to people. Acutally, this parable holds no comfort for us at all. Because it convicts us, just as it convicted that expert in the law…………of what?
This account points out sinful man’s wrong assumption that God is satisfied with our keeping common standards of basic, decent behavior.   What ARE God’s standards?    Can we “Go and do likewise?”     If not, how can we have any hope of pleasing God?

In what ways are we, at times, like the Levite and priest?    In what ways would you like to be more like the Good Samaritan?    How is Jesus the true Good Samaritan?



The Tower Builder And The Warring King (Luke 14:25-35)

This parable leads the crowd following Jesus to consider whether they are willing to pay the price of living in this kingdom as a disciple of Christ.

In what sense does the call to follow Jesus include a call to “hate” even those close to us? How is it a call to “hate” even our own life?

Today, we hear the phrase “a cross to bear” and we think of something difficult we have to live with. However, in Jesus’ day, carrying a cross meant much more. It meant . . . what?

Why is it important to “count the cost” of discipleship?

According to this section of Scripture, who IS qualified to be a disciple?    Are you qualified?    Justify your response.

The Parable Of The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13)

After focusing on God’s desire to save sinners, Jesus teaches his disciples how to live in such a way as to show that rescuing souls is their main objective as well.


In Eastern business practice, as long as a manager collected what his owner demanded, he was free to take any added percentage for himself. Therefore, it is possible that even with the discounts the manager offered, he still returned the amount that his owner originally demanded. Regardless, the manager lost out on money that could have been his. About what was the manager most concerned?

Why did the owner “commend” the manager?

There’s no question that dishonesty was involved in this man’s plan.  However, that is not the point of Jesus’ parable. Jesus wants to bring attention to the shrewdness of the manager, and for his disciples to take note.

In verse 8, who are the “people of this world?” (see Psalm 17:14)   Who are the “people of light?” (see Ephesians 5:8)   Why would people of the light want to be shrewd in dealing with people of the world?

You have a neighbor that moves in and you find out he and his family are atheists. What are some ways you can be “shrewd” in dealing with him? What factors will determine how “shrewd” you become?

Agree or Disagree:      The manner in which I use my wealth on this earth determines to what degree God will bless me with more. (see 2 Corinthians 9:6)

What is the main point of this parable?
NOTE: Heaven is a gift. It has nothing to do with how we use our money. However, our use of wealth in a God-pleasing way may RESULT in many people being in heaven to welcome us one day.


Unworthy Servants (Luke 17:7-10)

In verses 1-6 of chapter 17, Jesus has just given some examples of the stringent demands of obedience that those who follow Him must follow.   When they expressed their intimidation at such high standards, Jesus comforted them by telling them that, though their faith was small, yet because their faith was in him, it was powerful enough to enable them to  great things for God!

This short parable, however, speaks to a different concern: the human tendency to judge our faithfulness to God on the basis of how we stack up compared to others. There’s always someone less faithful than we are.   Often we are able to find that person in our lives.   What does this parable say to us when we start to compare ourselves to others?

What are the evil consequences for me, for others, and for God when I conclude, “you know, compared to most people, I’m a pretty faithful Christian”?

The Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

If someone gave you $l000.00 extra dollars, what would you do with it?
            1. Invest it aggressively.
2. Put it in an insured bank account.
3. Stuff it in a mattress because you don’t trust banks.

The setting of this parable is that Jesus and his disciples are nearing Jerusalem on his last journey. Many believed Jesus would now establish His kingdom in Jerusalem.   The story of Zacchaeus, just previous to this parable, points out the commitment to Jesus that accompanies a life of faith.   Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor and paid back those he had cheated four-fold.   The parable is all about faithfulness.   Perhaps Jesus spoke this parable in Zacchaeus’ home.

Who’s the man who went into a far country and promised to return again?  Who are the servants?   Who are the people who say, “We don’t want you to rule over us?”   What’s the distant country?    What’s meant by the interval between when the nobleman left and would return?

(Verse 13)  a mina was about three months wages.   What does the mina that each servant received before the nobleman left in the parable represent?  (see John 20:22).   It could also be the means of grace God’s servants are to use faithfully until the end of the age. I Tim. 6:20.   What are we to do with the mina until Jesus returns again?

In Biblical numerology the number ten, incidentally, consistently represents perfection or completeness.

The faithful servants in the parable showed their faithfulness by investing the money given to them by their master wisely and profitably.    How can we show our faithfulness as God’s servants?

Should we expect tangible or visible rewards already now on earth?


What does Jesus mean in verse 26?

Should we be afraid of the Last Day when the Lord calls us to give an account?

Section Three:    By Grace Alone…By Faith Alone


The Searching Shepherd, The Searching Woman, The Searching Father (Luke 15:1-32)

What precipitated these three parables? (v. 2)

These parables sharply contrast the attitude of the Pharisees toward sinners with God’s attitude toward sinners. How did a stereotypical Pharisee regard a “sinner”? What do these parable teach us about how GOD regards a sinner?

NOTE: Verse 7 reminds us that God is NOT in the business of rubber-stamping with his seal of approval the self-righteousness of people like the Pharisees. What really pleases him is rescuing repentant sinners. How do these parables challenge how we view ourselves?

List some details from these three parables that indicate the depth of God’s love for us.


Did you ever run away from home? Where did you go? What happened? (Or, Did you ever think of running away from home? Where would you have gone? Why did you change your mind?)    Which child were you in your family, the “obedient” one or the “wild” one?

Why do you think the prodigal son decided to leave home?  


In those times if a younger son left the family home for one reason or another, the older son was expected to stay at home and take care of the estate.  However, the younger son had no right to demand his share of the inheritance when he did.   According to Jewish law, the children could not divide the inheritance until after the father’s death. Then the firstborn (oldest) received a “double share” of the estate, and the other children shared the remainder of it (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).   The younger son in the parable could have received a considerable amount of money.

What’s meant by the “distant country?” When are we off in a “distant country?” Why didn’t the father stop his son? Why doesn’t God stop us?    What kind of pleasures can the world give?


Does God ever abandon someone to their foolishness? Romans 1:24,28.

Do you think that the father was wise to give his son his inheritance when he knew his son would probably blow it?
If the father had a pretty good idea where his son had gone, do you think he should have gone after him?


(Verses 17-19)  What does the lost son realize he doesn’t deserve? What’s his only hope when he goes back home? What must we also realize we don’t deserve from God? What’s our only hope also?

Of what can we be sure when we return to our heavenly father?   What’s the spiritual counterpart to the “best robe” (verse 22)?    See Galatians 3:27; Isaiah.61:10. The ring signified son ship. Sons also wore sandals. Slaves went barefoot.


In the third parable, what flaws do you find in the protest of the older brother to his father’s goodness toward his younger brother? (vv. 28-30)


By temperament and experience, which of the three main characters do you best identify with in this story of the prodigal son/unforgiving brother/waiting father?

Agree or Disagree:      Some “lost sons” can appear to be very nice, decent, family loving and church going people?

What’s the only food that nourishes and feeds the soul?   What is some “pigs food” the world offers?


The Blind Guides (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:39-42)

This parable is connected to Jesus famous “Sermon On The Mount.” In this sermon Jesus teaches almost the diametric opposite of what the Pharisees taught; namely, that an attitude of humility and mercy are more important than an outward show of righteousness; that sin is not only what one does but what one thinks; that God expects more than reasonably good behavior, that he expects perfection.

Read the parable in verses 39-40 of Luke 6. In what sense were the Pharisees “blind” leaders?

What does Jesus indicate as the consequences of such blind leadership?

Read verses 41,42. Then read Luke 6:1-10. How did the Pharisees prove themselves guilty of the sin this parable reveals? What was the plank in the Pharisees’ eye?    Let’s apply this parable to ourselves. Should we ever point out sin in the life of a fellow Christian? (See 6:37) If so, what should be our attitude in doing so and our goal?


The Persistent Friend (Luke 11:1-10)

This entire section has to do with prayer. What would prompt the disciples to request “Lord, teach us to pray”? What’s so difficult about praying?

Verses 2-4 describe the nature of God-pleasing prayer. God-pleasing prayer will reflect that our greatest concern is God’s glory and his kingdom (gracious ruling) in the hearts of people, that spiritual matters are most important, that we are dependant on God for everything from basic physical needs to forgiveness to help in any trouble.

Verses 5-8 is a parable which makes what point about HOW we are to pray?

(This parable should remind us not to go too far in interpreting every detail of parables. For instance, we shouldn’t assume that God is like the man in the parable, answering our prayers merely because we keep bothering him.

Verse 9,10 should be an encouragement to us; however, what do you make of the claim that some make based on these words, that, if you really believe, God will answer all of your prayers?

Verses 11-13 are an argument from a lesser point to a greater. What is the point?

What is the greatest gift we can ask for?

The Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8)

The purpose of this parable is in Luke 18:1. What is the purpose? Why do we need this parable?

There is an argument from the lesser to the greater from this parable. If even an unjust judge grants justice after much pleading, then certainly . . . what?

Is Jesus’ last statement in v. 8 a warning for the disciples or about the world they live in? Be prepared to defend your answer. What does verse 8 say to us?


The Pharisee And The Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

When you were in high school, what did it take to be with the “in” crowd?    What was a guaranteed way to be out?
What is the purpose of this parable? (verse 9)

(Verse 11)  Was the Pharisee really thanking God?

God prescribed only 1 day of fasting a year, the Day of Atonement. Lev. l6:29,31 Later the Jews observed four official days of fasting. The Pharisees fasted each Monday and Thursday, the days tradition says Moses ascended and descended Mt. Sinai.   The Jews also weren’t commanded to give a tenth of everything. Small herbs, for example, were exempted.
Comment on the body language of the tax collector.


(Verse 14)   justified = not condemned, innocent, fully forgiven, free and rid of all guilt and punishment, accepted and beloved to God. On what basis does God pronounce this verdict? Why was the Pharisee not justified?

What’s meant by “universal justification?” When did it take place? What’s meant by “personal justification?” When did it take place? Why is universal justification of such comfort to the penitent sinner?

Agree or Disagree:      Even today the Pharisee and the tax collector go to the temple to pray.

How can religious feelings be deceiving?    To what must we compare ourselves to get a true picture of ourselves?

How is this parable a comfort? How is it a warning?

The Laborers In The Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)

The basis for this parable is Peter’s question in 19:27. Peter was curious about the reward he could expect as someone who had left everything to follow Jesus. What does this parable say to those who serve God because they want to get a bigger reward than everybody else?

This parable forces us to ask, “Why do I serve God?” It also forces us to ask whether we feel a “new” Christian has the same rights as we do in the congregation? How does this parable respond to both of those concerns?



Section Four:    Preparation for Judgment

The Parable Of The Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21)


According to Jewish law, the eldest son received a double inheritance, with the provision he subsequently must support his mother and (any) unmarried sisters.

The man in our text seems to make a rather simple request of Jesus. Describe Jesus’ response and what flaw he points out in the man’s question…and heart.


What does Jesus mean in verse 15 by the term “a man’s life?”

There are hints regarding the attitude problem this man had. How did he get his crop? (pay careful attention to the wording in verse 16)


Does this parable say that it is wrong to plan ahead for the future?   (See James 4:13-15)    Is it right to put money away in a life insurance policy or a retirement account or even to have a savings account?
Pay careful attention to the wording he uses when he talks about material possessions. What do you notice that indicates just what was the problem with this rich man’s view of life?     (See also Psalm 39:6; Psalm 49:10; Eccl. 2:18,21)

Why did God call him a “fool” in verse 20? 


Agree or Disagree:      To possess wealth gives a person a false sense of security

Aside from material wealth, what other earthly matters might give one a false sense of security?

What does it mean to be “rich toward God”?   And how does one do that?

Where are your riches?     What are three chief priorities for your life right now?    How would you like to be remembered?
Where would you like to leave your riches?

The Net (Matthew 13:47-50)

The normal way to fish on the Sea of Galilee was to simply drag a net through the water. The net, of course, would collect both edible and inedible fish. Take note that Jesus is speaking this parable from a location near the Sea of Galilee, where the people may been able to see fisherman out on the water and plying their trade.

It is impossible to determine how many “keepers” there are in a net bulging with fish, simply by looking at the net. What lesson do we learn from this parable about the nature of the kingdom of heaven?

How does this parable serve as a warning to us?

Define the “wicked” and the “righteous” (See Romans 3:20-23)

Many today do not believe in the traditional understanding of hell as a place of fiery punishment. Verse 50 makes the nature of hell very clear.

The “gnashing of teeth” is symbolic of anger and frustration. Why are the inhabitants of hell frustrated and angry?


The Narrow Door (Luke 13:22-30)

In what respect is the door to heaven a narrow door?

The people outside the house claim to be acquainted with Jesus. Why does God deny knowing them?

If it is “evildoers” (v.27) who will be shut out of heaven, how can you or I stand a chance?
In verse 28, the “weeping” refers to sorrow and the “gnashing of teeth” refers to anger. Why will people shut outside of heaven grieve and be angry?

In verse 30, what was the message for the Jews of Jesus’ day? What is the message for us today?
The Seats At The Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-11)

The feast Jesus was attending was also attended by Pharisees and teachers of the law. In what way was their behavior at this feast (grabbing the best seats) indicative of their spiritual attitudes?

What did Jesus’ specifically mean in his statement in verse 11? Think of some situations when we need to remember these words.The Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24)

One of the guests at this banquet expresses his feelings about the blessedness of sharing in that future feast in the kingdom of God. The parable Jesus speaks directs that man’s attention AWAY from how wonderful heaven will be to whether he is willing, RIGHT NOW, to accept the invitation.

Who embodies God’s invitation to his heavenly feast? And how does one therefore reject God’s invitation to his kingdom?

The people in the parable had seemingly legitimate obligations in other matters. Why, then, are these people excluded from the feast and their “reasons” for not accepting the invitation called “excuses” (v. 18)?

This parable is all about priorities . . . in what sense?

What are some excuses humans use today for rejecting God’s invitation to his kingdom?

The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)

This parable was spoken right in the temple courtyard before the chief priests and elders during the week of Jesus’ death. His words are blunt.

How were the tax collectors and prostitutes like the first son? How were the Pharisees and teachers of the law like the second son?

There is a difference between claiming obedience and actually obeying. What command from the Father were the religious leaders simply unwilling to obey (though they calimed to be truely obedient to God)?

Comment on this statement: “Oh, I’m sure she went to heaven. She was very religious.”


The Parable Of The Tenants (Matthew 21:33-44)

Note that the situation is the same as that surrounding the parable above.

Who or what is . . .1) The landowner 2) The tenants 3) The servants 4) The son 5) The vineyard 6) The expected fruit 7) The other tenants 8) Harvest time?

Note how the parables are very direct and obvious in meaning to confront the religious leaders with their obstinate refusal to accept the truth of Jesus Christ.

What does verse 44 mean?

Ready And Waiting Servants (Luke 12:35-48)

In verses 35-40, Jesus speaks of being prepared for his second coming. In the first illustraation of servants waiting for their master to return home, what highly unusual thing does the master do for his faithful servants? What does this tell us about the nature of our Savior?

The second illustration pictures Jesus’ coming like a thief breaking into a house. Why?

The parable in verses 42-46 reminds us that there is a temptation all of us face until Jesus returns. What is that temptation? In what ways do we emulate that unfaithful servant?
The final verses, 47-48, remind us that the privilege we have been given to know the Savior and his word so well comes an important responsibility; namely, what?

NOTE: Scripture does teach clearly that there will be different degrees of punishment in hell.

The Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)

According to Jewish custom, when a couple was betrothed, an announcement was sent out regarding the impending marriage, which usually took place around one year later. This parable speaks about the subsequent personal invitations given shortly before the wedding.

The wedding clothes were special garments that guests were expected to wear to show their joy at the event being celebrated. Not wearing those garments was an insult.

Apply this parable to God’s dealings with Israel, focusing in on these details in the parable:

1. The repeated invitations

2. The apathetic and even hostile response

3. The subsequent invitation to anyone on the street

4. The importance of wedding clothing

What tendancies do we have that make this parable an apt warning for us?

In what way does this parable glorify God’s grace?

How does this parable help us to answer the charge: “I can’t believe a loving God would actually send people to hell.”


The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

Bridegrooms would walk in a festive procession from the home of the bride to the groom’s home. Guests could join the procession as it went along or greet the groom at his home. It was necessary, however, that the guests have lighted lamps. Each lamp would serve to further illuminate the home or banquet hall, and provide a bright and joyful atmosphere for the celebration.

Why did 5 of the 10 virgins fail to meet the groom? Whose fault was it? Why?

Verse 13 states the point of this parable. What is it?

What can lead us to not be prepared to meet Jesus when he returns?


Section Five:   Miscellaneous Parables


The Parable of The Patched Garment And The Wineskins

(Matthew 9:16,17; Mark 2:21,22; Luke 5:36-39)
Jesus has been baptized by John, thereby authenticating the ministry of John as well as giving public witness of his identity as God’s Son and chosen Messiah. He has returned from the wilderness to Galilee and chosen his disciples. He has worked his first miracle (turning water into wine) in Cana of Galilee. He has returned to Jerusalem for the Passover. He has made his way back to Galilee, where he has set up headquarters at Capernaum. He has gone throughout the region proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and healing many sick and demon-possessed people.

He has been ministering publicly long enough for the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law to become familiar with him and his message and to form some opinions about him. What do the following references tell you about the doctrine and practice of these religious leaders?




  • Matthew 6:5
  • Matthew 6:16-18
  • Luke 11:37-54
  • Luke 16:14

Is Jesus a friend or foe to them? Why?



  • John 1:13-22
  • Luke 5:17-26
  • Luke 5:27-32

Read Luke 5:33-39 in light of the last two references from Luke 5 we just studied. This was obviously not an honest question. It was meant to discredit Jesus. What did the question imply about Jesus and his disciples?

The Pharisees assumed that fasting won brownie points with God. Jesus answer implies that fasting isn’t a deed that impresses God. It is a sign of sorrow. When Jesus said his disciples shouldn’t fast in sorrow, because the bridegroom was with them, what was he claiming about himself?

The parable Jesus then speaks about the garment is designed to lead the Pharisees to conclude that their teaching doesn’t match Jesus’ teaching. Explain the difference and how the parable illustrates the incompatibility of the two.

The parable of the wineskins indicates that it is impossible to package Jesus’ message in the structure of Old Testament Law. Explain how the parable illustrates that and why the point of the parable is true.

This parable has to do with mixing up the Law and the Gospel. How do the following examples illustrate an improper use of Law and Gospel?

All you have to do to get to heaven is believe in Jesus and live a good life.

We really feel good about our church! We’re growing by leaps and bounds, we always have something going for every age group, and people say that we’re the friendliest group around!

No Christian who appreciates what Jesus did for them would EVER have done what you did! Does Jesus’ death for you mean ANYTHING to you at all?

The Ten Commandments are a real comfort to me because they keep me on track in my walk with God.

Children In The Marketplace  (Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:29-35)

This parable is directed to the Pharisees and experts in the law. How did these people regard John’s ministry? (See Luke 7:29,30) What did they think of Jesus? (See notes on the parable of the Wineskins)
Jesus compares the religious leaders of his day to children at play. In verse 32, what are we told about the way that children act when it comes to choosing what to play.

How did the religious leaders also act this way? (See vv. 33,34). In verses 33 and 34, what are we told about the different nature of John’s
and Jesus’ ministry?

Our sinful nature also resists both the Law and the Gospel. List some examples.



Parables Proving The Person Of Christ  (Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 3:22-27)

What precipitated the parable-based teaching of this section? (See vv 22-24)

List the arguments Jesus uses to show how ridiculous and simple-minded the accusation that Jesus is driving demons out by the power of the devil is. (v26-29)

What conclusion, arising from Jesus’ obviously real and God-given miracle-working power, did the Pharisees not want to accept? Why not?

Many today want to find some reason to dismiss anything about Jesus that points to his divine nature. Why is it simple-minded for someone to think he can separate Jesus from his miracles and end up with “Jesus, the great humanitarian-teacher”?

The Empty House (Matthew 12:43-45)

What leads to Jesus’ words in this section? Read 12:38. The current religious leaders again show their absolute ridiculousness when they ask    Jesus for a sign that will prove he is the Messiah sent from God. Why in  the world would they need a sign, given all the miracles Jesus had  already performed!? Their request merely betrays their refusal to accept  the truth that had already been made clear.

Read the parable. It speaks about a demon-possessed man who enjoyed  freedom from demon possession for a while, but in the end was possessed  by seven demons rather than merely one.

Many Israelites who had rejected God repented when John the Baptist  brought his message to Israel and pointed them to the Messiah, Jesus.  But many of those baptized by John later rejected Jesus and so their fate  was worse at the end.

What warning can we take from this parable?

How does this parable move us to reach out more energetically to our  fallen-away friends and relatives?

The Owner Of The House (Matthew 13:51,52)

In order for the teachers of the law to give their listeners the full  revelation of God, they first had to be instructed in the kingdom of heaven themselves. What did they need to learn about the kingdom of  heaven? (Matthew 3:1-3)

What are the old treasures? What are the new treasures?
Christian teaching is more than just a matter of imparting knowledge or facts; it’s sharing treasures! List some of the treasures that Christian teachers (such as parents, Sunday School teachers, and every Christian witness) are privileged to share.

Clean And Unclean (Matthew 15:1-20)

Since the time of the return from the Baylonian Capitivity, the teachers of the law had added additional regulations and laws to the Mosaic Law. Two of those “traditions of the elders”, as they were called, are mentioned in the opening verses. One is the practice of ceremonial washing before meals, and the other is the practice of dedicating something as a special gift to God.

In their effort to keep the man-made traditions of the Elders, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law ended up breaking God’s clear commands. How does Jesus illustrate that? How do the Isaiah passages support Jesus’ accusation?

Read 15:10,11 and then 15:15-20 for the explanation of this parable.

Our sin and our need for a savior is more serious if we view sin as a matter of the heart and rather than as a matter of one’s life. Why is that?

NOTE: This was a theme Jesus hit again and again in his discussions with the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. Without a true understanding of sin, there isn’t much need for a Savior.

Read 15:12-14 Jesus here tells his disciples why they shouldn’t be surprised if the Pharisees were offended by Jesus’ words, nor should they let the Pharisees intimidate them as men who seem to be in control.

Lost Sheep And Dogs (Matthew 15:21-28)

Jesus’ ministry was conducted primarily for the benefit of God’s people, the Jews. Jesus’ mission was conducted for all people. Jesus’ is referring only to his ministry in verse 24.

In Jesus’ statement in verse26, who are the children? What is the bread? Who are the dogs?

In the woman’s reply, what was she saying to Jesus? How would you describe this woman’s faith?

Jesus didn’t help her right away; in fact he seemed to ignore her and then cut her down. Why did he deal with her in this manner?

The Yeast Of The Pharisees And Sadducees (Matthew 16:5-12)

The point of this parable is obvious and extremely important. The false teaching of the religious leaders was like yeast- it influenced a person’s entire thinking and life.

Note what had happened leading up to this parable. The religious leaders had asked Jesus for a sign to prove he was the Messiah. That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? How did this request, however, give evidence of their false beliefs and teaching?

One of Satan’s biggest lies is that a little false teaching is no big deal. A little false teaching can lead to toleration or acceptance of more false teaching and ultimately destroy one’s faith and eternal future.



The Rock And The Keys (Matthew 16:13-19)

The Roman Catholic Church states that this reference is Scriptural evidence that Christ chose Peter to be the first pope, and that all
successors of Peter have the headship of the church that Christ entrusted to Peter.

However, while Jesus DID change Simon’s name to Peter, which means “rock” because of his rock-solid confession of who Jesus was, Jesus was NOT referring to Peter when he said, “On this rock I will build my church.” The Greek word for “rock” in that phrase is of the feminine gender, and therefore cannot refer to Peter (masculine gender); it must refer to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God.

What are the keys Jesus speaks of? (See John 20:23)


The Lamp Of The Body (Luke 11:33-36)

Earlier in this chapter Jesus drove a demon out of a man and some concluded this miracle was accomplished through the power of Satan.
Others demanded that Jesus prove he was really God by a “sign” from heaven.

This parable shows that the problem for those who would not accept Jesus is NOT that there isn’t enough evidence. How does verse 33 point that out (if the lamp is Jesus)?

In verse 34, the eyes are “faith”, what is Jesus saying to those who refused to accept him as God and Savior?

In verses 35 and 36, what is Jesus saying about the person who truly believes in him?

This parable should be a good reminder to us that some people simply don’t WANT to believe, though they may claim that the evidence for Christianity isn’t compelling enough.

How does this understanding actually help us when we witness our faith to others?

NOTE: One year away from his death, Jesus begins now to use much clearer language. Consider what he says in the rest of this chapter.


The Fruitless Fig Tree (Luke 13:1-9)

This parable was spoken by Jesus in response to a question that has always plagued mankind. Why does tragedy strike some and not others? Jesus doesn’t answer that question. Rather, he addresses the attitude of those who asked it.

Rather than being concerned about whether somebody else was under God’s judgment, what should they be concerned about?

In verses 6-9, who is the vineyard owner, the vineyard tender, and the fig tree.

What is the point of the parable . . . about God? about stubborn Israel?


The Wise And Foolish Builders    (Matthew 7:24-29; Luke 6:46-49)

Multitudes had been attracted to Jesus and his teaching. Many were amazed that he spoke with authority that even the Teachers of the Law did not have. But fascination with Jesus is not the same as faith in Jesus.

How does the parable in Luke 6:43-49 make that point? In what sense are we all builders? What is the rock foundation? What are the consequences of building or not building on the rock?

In what ways do we call Jesus “Lord” but live as if we are the lords of our lives?