January 29, 2023

The Fourth Sunday of the Epiphany Season


Jesus’ Omnipresence — He Is With Us!

Another Proof That He Truly Is Our God


The Epiphany Season Emphasis

            For over 18 centuries Christians have traditionally spent the Sunday mornings of this portion of the church year in which we find ourselves examining portions of Scripture which reveal to us and confirm for us the divine nature of Christ our Savior.   This focus or emphasis is intimately tied to the ancient name for this season, which we call Epiphany – a name, taken from the Greek language in which the NT was originally written, and which means: “to reveal” or “to make manifest.” 


Our Current Worship Series

            On this Fourth Sunday in Epiphany, we find ourselves at part two of a three week sermon/service series during which we’ve been studying three of the many divine characteristics (attributes) of Jesus which He manifested during His first coming.  Those 3 divine attributes are:  His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His omniscience.


Omnipotence, Omnipresence and Omniscience

            For most of us our first acquaintance with these“omni” terms (each taken from the Latin word “omni” meaning “all”) came during the early Christian doctrine training (aka “confirmation classes”) that we received in preparation for communicant membership.        Respect-ively,,“Omnipotence,” “Omnipresence” and “Omniscience” refer to the fact that Jesus is: 1)  All-powerful;   2) All-present;   and 3) All-knowing…… characteristics which only God can possess.   As we were reminded last week with His omnipotence, so we will see this morning  that since Jesus is also omnipresent, Christians are correct when we teach that Jesus Christ our Savior, while fully human, is at the very same time the One Eternal True God.    As a result,  we can confidently place our trust in Him for forgiveness, protection and guidance in this life, and for our salvation for eternity.


Martin Luther on God’s Omnipresence:

            “We say that God is no such extended, long, broad, thick, high, deep Being.   He is a supernatural, inscrutable Being Who exists at the same time in every little seed, whole and entire, and yet also in all and above all and outside all created things. There is no need to enclose Him here. For a body is much, much too wide for the Godhead;   it could contain many thousand Godheads.   On the other hand, it is also far, far too narrow to contain one Godhead.  Nothing is so small but God is still smaller, nothing so large but God is still larger, nothing is so short but God is still shorter, nothing so long but God is still longer, nothing is so broad but God is still broader, nothing so narrow but God is still narrower, and so on. He is an inexpressible being, above and beyond all that can be described or imagined.”       Luther’s Works, vol 37, pg 228.


Today’s Scripture Lessons

            This morning’s Scripture Lessons consist of an assortment of Bible passages which describe the various ways in which Christ reveals His presence not only among us, but also throughout the universe at one and the same time,  according to His fully shared Human and Divine natures.   

*  We’ll talk about His “localized” presence (in which He appeared in one specific place);

*  His “illocal” presence (in which He appeared in one place, yet also manifested His divine power in defying the rules of Physics when it furthered His redemptive work);

*  His majestic presence in His glorified state of exaltation in which He ascended to heaven and is seated at the Father’s right hand ;

*  His “full” presence among His Church and throughout His creation…that is to say, Christ’s “Ubiquity”  (His divine ability – which is fully shared by both His human and divine natures –  to be everywhere at the same time);

*   Christ’s human nature fully sharing the qualities of the divine nature, and the divine sharing fully the human nature’s characteristics, according to which we can also properly say that, because  He is “ubiquitous,” Christ is able to be in heaven at the Father’s right hand, yet also fully, physically present among us in the Lord’s Supper.

*  We’ll talk about that wonderful miracle of Christ’s presence in the  Lord’s Supper in our Children’s Lesson this morning;

* And, finally, we’ll discuss and apply to our lives the truth of Jesus’ omnipresence in today’s Sermon, rejoicing in the comforting truth that He is always with us all the time.


Some Thoughts on Today’s Order of Matins Service

This morning’s Worship service has been organized around the “Order of Matins.”   Used routinely by us as

one of our Sunday worship service orders, “Matins” is the oldest form of public worship still in common use within the Christian Church.  The Matins service that we are using today is actually a combination of two ancient worship service orders known as “Matins” and “Lauds.”    Both of them date back to the earliest days of the Christian Church.  Originally “Matins” was the first of 8 daily worship services occurring at 3 hour intervals. Matins was the midnight order, while Lauds was used at daybreak.  By the fifth century, Lauds and Matins had been combined into the Order of Matins which, with some slight variations, we will be using today.   This service includes two traditional “canticles” (or hymns) of the Christian Church:   “The Venite” (Latin for “O, Come” and based on Psalm 95),  and the “Te Deum Laudamus” (Latin for “We Praise You, O God”…..see more information on the Te Deum following this paragraph).   The one addition we have made to this service order of Matins, consistent with our Lutheran worship heritage, is to include a Confession of Sins and a public Absolution of those sins.


The Te Deum Laudamus

            God’s children across the centuries have purposely united in public worship to together share and declare their faith.   This is consistent with His Third Commandment, as well as Jesus’ example of regularly participating in public worship in the Synagogue (Luke 4:16).   It also is the Christian’s way of following the good counsel of Hebrews 10:23-25 to “not give up meeting together….but to encourage one another.” 

            When we gather for worship, we listen to God’s Word, bring Him our offerings and praises, confess our sins, and also express our joint faith in Him.  

             One of the ways in which we have expressed our faith is through the use of specific formulations (or statements) of what the one true God teaches us about Himself and about us throughout the pages of His Word, the Holy Scriptures.    We typically refer to those formulations as “Creeds” (from the Latin word for “I/we believe”).    The Christian Church, spanning nearly all denomination lines, recognizes especially three “creeds” as the essential expressions of those Biblical truths which are fundamental to our Christian faith and salvation.   Those creeds are:    The Apostles’;    The Nicene;    and   The Athanasian Creeds.

            The content of those creeds, particularly the first two, frequently have been set to lyric and song over the centuries as a further means of reinforcing in the minds and souls of Christians the essential, saving truths of the Christian faith that they contain.

            As a major part of our worship service this morning, we will be making use of one of those Creeds-set-to-song, in the form of one of the Christian Church’s oldest hymns – dating all the way back to the fourth century AD – the “Te Deum Laudamus.”


A Brief History of the “Te Deum Laudamus”

            This ancient Latin hymn and Christian confession of faith, the ‘Te Deum Laudamus’ (“We Praise You, O God”) was most likely written by Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (present-day Serbia) who lived from A.D. 335 to 414.   The ‘Te Deum’ declares outright and out-loud what all Christians across the ages have known to be true about our God.   This confessional song doesn’t begin with the declaration that we choose Him to be the Lord (something many people today are told they have to do/want, but which no one can do on his or her own, since faith has to be worked miraculously in us by God the Holy Spirit – I Cor 12:3; Rom 9:16).   Rather, the “Te Deum” begins as the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1 – with the established fact and reality that the true God does exist.   Christians in the “Te Deum” humbly begin with the acknowledgment that the God we worship is The Lord, the Creator, the Ruler of all that exists…..including us.  Next, this hymn’s lyrics affirm the reality and unity of the Holy Christian Church, that body of all true believers on earth and in heaven, from apostles and prophets to those martyred for the faith, along with the angel hosts and souls in heaven, which join to continually praise the God of our salvation.

            There is good reason for that, since the ‘Te Deum Laudamus was written during a particularly challenging episode in the history of the early church.   In the A.D. 300s, the church became embroiled in a doctrinal controversy which threatened to – and almost did – destroy it.  The controversy centered on exactly Who Jesus of Nazareth was.   At that time a theologian from Alexandria, Egypt by the name of Arius had so strongly stressed the supremacy of God the Father that he ended up reducing the status of the Son, Jesus, to a position inferior to the Father in every way.   Arius still saw Christ as “a God,” but only in the sense of an inferior supernatural being appointed to a divine position by God the Father, in order to carry out on earth the task of humanity’s redemption.   According to Arius, Jesus was not, in any way, equal to the God the Father, but only essentially similar to Him.   By 325 Arius and his false teachings had created such division and confusion within the church that a church-wide emergency meeting (a Council) was called at Nicaea (modern-day Iznik, Turkey) to resolve the matter.   The result, championed by the great theologian Athanasius, was the production of one of the most important confessions of the Christian faith in the history of the church, the Nicene Creed – which we employ to this very day. 


The Nicene Creed as a basis for the “Te Deum”

            “Very God of Very God!”……. That is Who the Nicene Creed says Jesus is  – in sharp contrast to the claims that the Arians (as well as their contemporary descendants – the Jehovah’s Witnesses) had made for a diminished Christ.   Scripture teaches that Jesus was undoubtedly fully human, but also fully divine.    He had no beginning, nor will He have an end, because – along with the Father and the Holy Spirit – He is the one, true, eternal, Triune God.   There was never a time when He was not God.   He shares the exact same status and authority as the Father, “being of one substance with the Father.”  (That is true, also of His equality with the Holy Spirit.)   And yet He was also – uniquely – the One ”Who for us men (humankind) and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and became man (human).”    Athanasius and his fellow orthodox (true teaching) theologians properly recognized that if Jesus wasn’t both fully human AND fully divine, how could He really save humanity from their sins?   How could an ordinary man’s death (even if that man was personally sinless) deliver even one other human being, let alone the entire human race, from eternal death in hell?  

            The Nicene Creed did set down what the Scriptures – and thus the true-teaching Church – declare about the Triune God…..and particularly about the person of Jesus Christ, our Savior.    But producing a correct written statement of belief didn’t automatically end the controversy.   Arianism would not disappear quietly or quickly.    The Nicene Creed’s truths had to be taught consistently and comprehensively throughout the entire Christian Church.   And one of the means of doing that was through song (as we also teach Christian truth through our hymns today) – notably through Nicetas’ hymn “The Te Deum Laudamus,” which many regard as “the Nicene Creed in song” and as “one of the noblest hymns of the Western church and one of the greatest confessions of faith in song.”


The Structure and General Content of the “Te Deum”

            In its structure, the Te Deum Laudamus resembles another of the Christian church’s great, ancient hymns, “The Gloria in Excelsis” (Latin for “Glory in the Highest”).   There are three clear divisions – two principal parts, plus an appendix/closing prayer.   The first part sounds forth the praise of God the Father, and then that of the entire Holy Trinity.   The second part commemorates Christ’s redemptive work, and upon that basis, it asks for divine help and support.    The earliest form of this hymn ended at the phrase that closes part two, “in glory everlasting.”      The third part is actually in the form of a prayer-style that customary concluded a number of ancient hymns – in this case the closing which the early Eastern church used at the end of their singing “the Gloria in Excelsis. “

            Realizing how critical the Jesus’ identity really was to the church’s faith and salvation, it isn’t surprising that the ‘Te Deum’ doesn’t just make a confession of ‘Who’ this three-in-one God is, but goes on in some detail to affirm what He has done for all of us.    Obviously, the true God’s identity (Who He is) and God’s history (what He has done) go hand in hand, because what He has done ‘in history serves as the “stage” by which God’s saving work and person are displayed in Christ.    Simply, the Church is confessing in the Nicene Creed as well as in the Te Deum, “Lord, it is because of ‘everything You have done for us’ that we believe You are our Savior-God.”   

            Consequently, the ‘Te Deum’ doesn’t hold back in telling the story of God’s gracious interaction with mankind – the climax of that interaction being redemptive work of God the Son, Jesus Christ.   In fact, it very simply and clearly states:   When You took it upon Yourself to deliver man, You humbled Yourself to be born of a Virgin.    When You had overcome the sharpness of death (through Your sacrifice on the cross and bodily resurrection),  You opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”     After that, it describes the present state of the Church’s affairs: “You sit at the right hand of God: in the glory of the Father.”   And, finally, it points to our future, “We believe You shall come: to be our Judge.”



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 OneLicense.net  #A712831




Pre-service prayer       Pre-worship music



Let Us Praise The Lord


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


after which 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.”


Today’s Psalm                                                                                                        Psalm 139, selected verses



  • O LORD, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.



  • You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.



  • Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD.



  • C: You hem me in–behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me.



  • Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.



  • Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
    • P: If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.



  • If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
    • P: If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.



  • For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    • P: I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
    • C: My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.
    • P: When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
    • C: All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
    • P: How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
    • C: When I awake, I am still with You.
    • P: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
    • C: See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting


  • After which the Congregation will be seated for
  • The Opening Hymn “God Is Here Among His People”
  • sung to the melody of “‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”
  • God is here among His people! As we join in praise and prayer,
  • May we find in fuller measure, Jesus’ grace which we all share.
  • Here, though in the world abiding, as God’s children set apart,
  • We rejoice to join together, one in faith, in love, in heart.
  • Here the Means of Grace remind us of our life-long need for grace.
  • Here are altar, font, and pulpit; here Christ’s cross has central place.
  • Here in faithful Bible preaching, here in silence and in songs,
  • Here the Spirit, edifying, heart-felt joy in us prolongs.
  • Here our children find in Baptism entry to the Shepherd’s fold;
  • Here, in Sacramental Union, Christ sustains us, young and old.
  • Here the servants of the Servant, seek in worship to explore
  • What it means in daily living, to believe and to adore.
  • Lord of all, the Church and Kingdom, in an age of change and doubt,
  • Keep us faithful to all Scripture; Help us work Your purpose out.
  • Here, in bringing praise and off’rings, all we have to give, receive;
  • We who cannot live without You, We adore You! We believe!”  
  • After which the Congregation will rise for
  • We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God
  • 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.   
  • The Order of Matins
  • Pastor O Lord, open my lips.
  • Congregation (sung) And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
  • Pastor Hasten, O God, to deliver me.
  • Congregation (sung) Make haste to help me, O Lord.
  • Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
  • As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.
  • World without end. Hallelujah.
  • Pastor – O come, let us worship the Lord.
  • Congregation (sung) For He is our Maker
  • Oh come, let us sing to the Lord.
  • Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.
  • Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving.
  • Let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise.
  • For the Lord is a great God. And a great King above all gods.
  • The deep places of the earth are in His hands.
  • The heights of the hills are also His.
  • The sea is His for He made it. And His hands formed the dry land.
  • Oh come let us worship and bow down.
  • Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God
  • And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
  • The Prayer for This Morning
  • O Precious Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, + You in Whom the Fullness of the eternal God dwells in bodily form,   +   In Your mercy, continue to give Your continued presence   +   every day +   everywhere  +  in everything   +   to every one of us, assembled here.    +    We thank and praise You that,  + according to Your promise,    +   You are present among us as we worship You this morning.   +   Reassure us that none of us will ever be alone in this life;   + because You are always be with us and for us.    +   And, by Your grace, +   having forgiven us all our sins,   + continue to sustain us in our faith in You as our God and Savior, + so that, glorified by You,   +  one day, and for all eternity,   +   we might stand before Your majestic presence in heaven,   +   praising You as the Lord of our Savior.    +   This we ask in Your name, dear Savior,   +   Who, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, + reigns as the One, True, and Only God,   +   for ever and ever.  
  • After which the Congregation will be seated as
  • We Give Our Attention to God’s Word
  • Christ’s Presence, normally localized during His “State of Humiliation”
  • Luke 2:46
  • After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
  • Matthew 9:1-2
  • Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own town. 2 There people brought to Him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, son! Your sins are forgiven.”
  • Christ’s Presence, at times “illocal” (not physically limited) during His “State of Humiliation”
  • Luke 4:30
  • But He passed through the middle of them and went on His way.
  • John 20:19-20
  • 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
  • Christ’s Presence, at the Father’s Right Hand
  • Hebrews 1:1-3
  • In the past, God spoke to our forefathers by the prophets at many times and in many ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom He made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of the divine nature. He sustains all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
  • Ephesians 1:19-23
  • How surpassingly great His power is for us who believe. 20 It is as great as the working of His mighty strength, which God worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, and above every name that is given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 God also placed all things under His feet and made Him Head over everything for the church. 23 The church is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way.
  • Christ’s “Ubiquitous” Presence (Filling Everything, Always Present Among Us)
  • Ephesians 4:10
  • He Who descended is the same One Who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.
  • John 3:12-13
  • If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, except the One Who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, Who is in heaven.
  • Jeremiah 23:23-24
  • Am I a God Who is only nearby, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.
  • Matthew 18:20
  • In fact where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am among them.”
  • Matthew 28:20
  • And surely I am with you always until the end of the age.”
  • Christ’s Real Presence In the Lord’s Supper
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
  • 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way, after the meal, He also took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new testament in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
  • 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the Lord’s body and blood. 28 Instead, let a person examine himself and after doing so, let him eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For if anyone eats and drinks in an unworthy way because he does not recognize the Lord’s body, he eats and drinks judgment on himself.
  • After which the Congregation will rise to offer
  • The Te Deum Laudamus
  • We praise You, O God, we acclaim You as Lord; all creation worships You the Father everlasting.
  • To You all angels, all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim sing in endless praise.
  • Holy, holy, holy Lord God of heavenly hosts, heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
  • The glorious company of the apostles praise You. The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
  • The white-robed army of martyrs praise You. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You;
  • Father of majesty unbounded, Your glorious, true and only Son, and the Holy Spirit, Advocate and Guide.
  • You, Christ, are the King of glory, the eternal Son of the Father.
  • When You became man to set us free, You humbled Yourself to be born of a virgin.
  • You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
  • You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
  • We believe that You will come to be our Judge.
  • Come then, Lord, and help Your people, bought with the price of Your own blood
  • and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting.
  • After this the congregation may be seated for
  • The Children’s Lesson Matthew 26:26,28
  • 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples. He said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it all of you, 28 for this is My blood of the new testament, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Jesus Is REALLY Present in the Lord’s Supper
  • The Second Hymn Hymn 416
  • “How Firm A Foundation Ye Saints Of The Lord”
  • 1 How firm a foundation, O saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
  • What more can he say than to you he has said Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
  • 2 In ev’ry condition, in sickness, in health, In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth,
  • At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea — The Lord, the Almighty, your strength e’er shall be.
  • 3 “Fear not, I am with you. Oh, be not dismayed, For I am your God and will still give you aid;
  • I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
  • 4 “When through the deep waters I call you to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
  • For I will be with you your troubles to bless And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
  • 5 “Throughout all their lifetime my people shall prove My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love,
  • And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn, Like lambs they shall still on my shoulders be borne.”
  • The Pre-Sermon Greeting
  • Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord! May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.
  • The Sermon Text Mark 6:45-53
  • 45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He Himself dismissed the crowd. 46 After He had sent them off, He went up the mountain to pray.
  • 47 When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. 48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, He went to them, walking on the sea. He was ready to pass by them. 49 When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought He was a ghost, and they cried out. 50 They all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 Then He climbed up into the boat with them, and the wind stopped. They were completely amazed, 52 because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.  53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.
  • Fear Not….Jesus Is With You….Always!
  • following which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for
  • The Post-Sermon Blessing
  • May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, now equip you with everything good for doing His will!
  • We Offer Our Gifts and Prayers 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 also donate on our website: gracelutherannwa.com
  • the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar
  • Today’s Prayers
  • We include a prayer of intercession for Mike Outlaw who will soon be undergoing surgery for a heart condition
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • 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. 
  • We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing
  • The LORD bless you and keep you.
  • The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
  • The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.
  • The Closing Hymn Hymn 330 “Now the Hour of Worship Oe’r”
  • 1 Now, the hour of worship o’er, Teaching, hearing, praying, singing,
  • Let us gladly God adore, For his Word our praises bringing;
  • For the rich repast he gave us Praise the Lord, who deigned to save us.
  • 2 Now the blessing cheers our heart, By his grace to us extended.
  • Let us joyfully depart; Be our souls to God commended.
  • May his Spirit ever guide us And with all good gifts provide us.
  • 3 Bless our going out we pray, Bless our entrance in like measure
  • Bless our bread, O Lord, each day. Bless our toil, our rest, our pleasure.
  • Bless us when we reach death’s portal. Bless us then with life immortal. Amen.
  • Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-Service Music
  • Announcements
  • Last Week At Grace: Sunday Worship Attendance: 59 (20 online)      Bible Class Attendance: 24 (9 online)
  • Tuesday Bible Class: 14 Budgetary Offerings:   $1618      Online $ 60     Darrell Anderson Memorial:  $100
  • This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church
  • Today Morning Worship at 9:30 a.m                         Sunday School and Bible Class, 11:05 a.m.
  • Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday Church Secretary in the Office, 10 a.m. to mid-afternoon
  • Tuesday Morning Bible Class, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday Evening Bible Classes, 6-7 p.m.
  • Saturday Outreach Visits, 10 a.m.
  • Sunday Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m, including the Lord’s Supper Fellowship, 10:40am  
  • Bible Class/Sunday School 11:05am          Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Birthdays This Week: Jan 29 Becca Johannes; Feb 02 Rachel Johannes               Feb 05  Shelby Bruns
  • Serving Us Next Sunday Elders:   Steve Stone, Rick Tragasz          Altar Guild:   Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold    
  • Ushers: Fred Cusanelli, Chris Roberts, Trent Schroeder Fellowship:   Debbie Jones
  • Midweek Lent Worship Services Notice – Our midweek Lenten worship services will start in less than one month. This year Ash Wednesday will be on February 22nd. As we’ve done in the past, this year we’ll also be holding “Lenten Suppers” each Wednesday evening through-out Lent.  They’ll begin at 6 p.m.  Our worship services will begin at 7:00 p.m.   On Ash Wednesday we’ll also celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  Please plan to join us for all of these special services.  Also, please bring a non-churched friend with you to share in these services.
  • Sunday School Teaching Volunteers Needed!!! Have you ever taught Sunday School? Have you ever wanted to learn how, or to help out….even if only on a part-time basis?   Our Sunday school needs 4 “full-time teachers” (where 2 persons would “team teach” a class on an alternating basis).  We could also use 2 substitute teachers to fill in as needed.  So, if you have the ability, experience, or interest to teach, PLEASE prayerfully consider serving our Lord as part of our Sunday School program.   For more information, please speak with Pastor.
  • Bible Classes This Week – In Adult Bible Class today we’ll continue to study the parables of Jesus. This morning, we’ll consider the Parable of the Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50), plus the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Tuesday morning (from 10:30-11:30am) we’ll study the book of Ecclesiastes.  This week we’ll listen to God’s instruction from Solomon about the blessing of Wisdom.  Wednesday evening (from 6-7 pm) our women’s class will study the book of Hosea,  while our men’s class is studying the topics of Suicide and Euthanasia.



  • Do You Know Anyone…. within your circle of friends, relatives, acquaintances, or neighbors who currently doesn’t attend a church? Have you prayerfully taken the opportunity to invite them to worship with you here on Sunday?  Would you please share his/her/their name with us, so that we can send mailings/invitations to them?   If you could connect us with an unchurched friend, please speak with Pastor, as we are  always looking for more souls to which we can reach out with our Savior’s Gospel of love, forgiveness, and everlasting life. 

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?