The Fifth Sunday of the Season of Lent     March 26, 2023

also known as Judica (“Judge” or “Vindicate”) Sunday

The Grave Danger of Rejecting Christ and

the Great Blessing of Believing in Him

During World War II, the city of Palermo, Sicily had to be bombed by American aircraft.   To warn the

Sicilians, so that they flee, thousands of pamphlets were dropped on the city beforehand.   But the residents of Palermo didn’t respond to the warning. They read it, but they did not believe it!   And so, when the American planes came and dropped their bombs, hundreds of Sicilians were killed.  In fact, in some cold, dead hands were found the very pages urging them to leave the city.   Throughout His three year public ministry – and through the Scriptures today – Jesus urges His followers not simply to hear God’s Law and Gospel, but to believe them, to actually follow them, to act upon them.   Sadly, then and now, like the people of Palermo, not everyone believed what Jesus said.   But instead of lives being lost – which is a great tragedy – souls have been and will continue to be lost eternally…..because so many across the ages have refused to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.   May that never be said of us, or of those we know and love.

            However, countless souls today are in grave, Spiritual danger because they have chosen to reject Jesus and to live in whatever ways – contrary to God’s Word – they believe are good and right for them.   What follows – in contrast to Christianity’s Creeds – could be labeled as The Creed of the Contemporary American.”

We believe that God for each of us is whatever a person chooses to define as God…..or to not define. 

Being Spiritual is a very individual thing.

We do, however, believe in Marx, Freud, and Darwin.

We believe everything is acceptable, just as long as you don’t deliberately hurt anyone

 – to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe that what others call “sin” is our right to do as we please.
We believe that adultery is fun.
And we believe that all taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything is getting better – despite any evidence to the contrary.

We believe there’s something useful in horoscopes, UFO’s, drugs and getting drunk.
We believe that Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
We believe that Jesus had a right to His own morals…..But that they don’t necessarily apply to us today.

We believe that all religions are basically the same – and that one is as good as the next

….but only for those who feel they need religion.
We believe that all religions offer love and goodness of some sort.

But we also believe that religion is over-rated,  and not for everyone.

And we believe the here and now is more important  than anything else.

So you can take religion , or leave it.    Just don’t push yours on others.

We believe that after death comes nothing,
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
And if death is really not the end for us,
then everyone will go to “heaven” anyway — except for people like Hitler and Osama Bin Laden.

We believe that all people are essentially good.
We also believe that when someone does something bad….It’s entirely the fault of society.

And so we personally never have anything to regret, or repent of.
We believe that each person has to determine whatever is truth for him or for her.

In fact, we believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth —
except for the truth that there is no absolute, objective truth.

We believe in the rejection of religious creeds,
Instead, we believe in the power of individual thoughts, feelings and choices.

We believe that you – alone – are the master of your own fate.

And so you should live however you please.

Since all that finally matters is that you do whatever pleases you.

      …..What a contrast to what Jesus taught, and what we believe from God’s Word as Christians!    Christianity is unique from every other “belief system” or religion in the world.   What makes it so unique (and true)?    Years ago that question was discussed at a conference of theologians.   Some participants argued that Christianity is unique in its teaching that God became human.    But others objected, pointing out that there are other religions that teach a similar message.   What about the uniqueness of Jesus’ (and our own ) bodily resurrection?    No, it was argued, other faiths also believe that the dead will rise again.    The discussion became quite heated.  Finally, C. S. Lewis, a well-known and strong defender of the Christian faith, who had come into the meeting late, asked  “What’s all the commotion about?”   When he learned that people were debating what made Christianity especially unique, he immediately commented, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”   How right he was! The very heart of the gospel is the supreme truth that God – for Jesus’ sake, through faith – loves us, forgives us and has saved us from our sins for everlasting life in heaven…..solely through the redeeming life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.    Although, on our own, we are helplessly and hopelessly sinful, God in His grace has forgiven us completely.   It’s by His incredible, unlimited grace that we have been saved, through faith in Christ…..and not through our good moral character, works of righteousness, commandment-keeping, or churchgoing.   Trusting in God’s total pardon from our sins, we have the guarantee of eternal life in heaven.    That’s Grace….That’s the Gospel!     What a gracious God we have and believe in!

The Last Two Weeks of Lent

traditionally known as “Passiontide”

     Although as our preparation for Easter began with “Ash Wednesday” back on February 22nd, with today’s service our preparation intensifies as we enter into the final two weeks of Lent…..a time traditionally known by the term “Passiontide.”   This period of fourteen days’ duration, starting on the fifth Sunday in Lent, was the Church’s first formal effort to commemorate our Lord’s Passion.   Eventually, the fourteen days of Passiontide were incorporated into the season of Lent when the latter was “officially” defined as a 40 day period of preparation (this occurred in the 9th  century A.D.).   “Passiontide’s” purpose is to recall, in a more vivid way than is done on the other Sundays in Lent, the persecutions and sufferings our Lord endured for our eternal deliverance. 

The Fifth Sunday in Lent:   Judica Sunday

      This morning is sometimes referred to as “Passion Sunday.”   But it is also known by an older, more traditional name…..“Judica Sunday.” That name is taken from the first word of the Psalm appointed to be read during worship on this day, Psalm 43.  The world “Judica” means “judge”.   In our Psalm reading we’re going to declare, “Judge me, O God” because we know that it is God who judges us.  How does He judge us…by our works and merits?  Well, if we were judged by our merit, then we would be guilty of sin and deserving of eternal death.   Thank God we aren’t judged by our merit, but according to Jesus’ merits.  He was sinless in our place and laid down His life for our sins on the cross.  Because of His redeeming work for us,  we will never be punished eternally because of our sins.  May the Holy Spirit bless us as we meditate on the Gospel truth that Jesus was judged for our sins, and so we are now judged perfect according to the righteousness of Christ.

Today’s Worship Service and Scripture Lessons

      In today’s First Reading, the overriding concern of the writer to the Hebrews here and throughout this book is that his readers will remain true to Jesus in spite of the strong temptation to avoid further persecution by renouncing Christ and returning to their former Jewish faith…..a faith which could never save them.  Instead he exhorts them to grow their faith because it is weak.  In fact, he has to chastise them for their spiritual immaturity and encourage them to more faithfully use the Word.   As a part of that exhortation, he informs them of the eternal peril of forfeiting their faith and the salvation Christ has won for them.   With the solemn words “26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins. 27 Instead, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a raging fire that is going to consume the enemies of God.“    ….he warns them in Christian love that, in effect, there will be “no coming back” to Christ if they throw their faith away.    That love is admittedly very “tough” brotherly love, but it is also true…..for believers 1900 plus years ago, and also for us Christians today. 

      In today’s Children’s Lesson, we’ll talk about our “walk of faith,” and how important it is for us not to “get lost” on that walk… getting separated from believing in Jesus as our Savior, and instead going in a different – and very dangerous – Spiritual direction.   Paul warns that many people get lost Spiritually when they choose to become enemies of Christ and can only think about the things of this world….instead of keeping their faith focused on the eternal life in heaven that is ours through Jesus Christ, our Savior.

      Finally, this morning’s Gospel Lesson/Sermon is based on Jesus’ painful Holy Week dialogue with His adversaries….a message we often refer to as His “Seven Woes.”   Here he warns the Pharisees and their spiritual allies that they have deluded themselves into believing that an outward, follow-the-rules “faith” will earn them a place in heaven.   However, good works cannot save anyone….unless those good works come from the sinless life that Jesus lived for us.   That, along with His sufferings and death for our sins, and His resurrection for our salvation are what – alone – guarantee anyone eternal life.   Sadly, as Jesus will lament in our sermon text, the majority of Jews in His day (and the majority of people in our own day) refused to believe in Him as their Savior.   That means their souls will be lost in hell, rather than saved for heaven.    As Jesus – in His love for their souls – warned His adversaries to repent and believe in Him, so He also warns us about the grave danger of rejecting Him, as well as encourages us to enjoy forever the blessings of believing in Him.

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



The Confessional Order of Service



Pre-service Prayer                                                                                                                                              

Pre-service Music                                                                                                                                                                           

We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


after which the Congregation will rise


Pastor      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 43


P:  Judge me justly, O God and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;  rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

C: You are God my stronghold.     Why have You rejected me?     Why must I go about mourning,     oppressed by the enemy?


P:  Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me;  

C: let them bring me to Your holy mountain,     to the place where You dwell.


P:  Then I will go to the altar of God,  to God, my joy and my delight.

C: I will praise You, with the harp,   O God, my God.


P:  Why are you downcast, O my soul?   Why so disturbed within me?

C: Put your hope in God,    for I will yet praise Him,    my Savior and my God.

P:  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,    for I hide myself in You.

C: Teach me to do Your will,     for You are my God;    Who saves me from my enemies.  You exalted me above my foes;    from violent men You rescued me.


P:  For Your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life;

C: in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble,   for I am Your servant.     

The Prayer for the Morning 


O Gracious Lord God,   +   drive out every trace of spiritual darkness from our hearts  +  that we may see Your Son as our one and only Redeemer   +   and that we may confidently call on Him   +   to deliver us from all our troubles of body and soul.    +  Bless our worship of You this morning   +   that through our meditation on Your Word  +   our faith might grow stronger    +    and our love for Your truth might increase.   +  All this we seek for the sake of Jesus Christ,  our Savior   +   Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit,  + as the One true God   + Now and forever.  +    Amen.



The Opening Hymn                                                                                          God the Father, gracious Lord

To the tune of “Come You Thankful People, Come”   meter:    7777D



God the Father, gracious Lord,   May Your name be e’er adored.

All exists by Your command    In the sky or sea or land.

Precious Father, You know all – When each hair and sparrow fall.

Guide and guard me from all harm

With Your strong, protecting arm.


Jesus Christ, my Lord, God’s Son,    Who, for me, salvation won –

You Who hung on Calvary     Bore my sins and set me free!

You, my ever-faithful Friend,   Who will love me to the end,

By Your grace in heav’n I’ll live.   Heart-felt praise to You I give.


Holy Spirit, Light Divine,

 Through the Means of Grace, please shine

In my heart again today,    Drive sin’s darkness far away.

Keep me in Your Word, so true,    Day by day my faith renew.

Use me, Lord, as You know best   Serving here – in heav’n to rest.


Blessed Holy Trinity,   Glorious in Your majesty,

Father, Spirit and the Son –   Savior-God, the Three-in-One –

From sin’s curse You set me free    Heaven’s mine – eternally.

All I am, to You I owe,    Source from Whom all blessings flow.

The Confessional Order of Service

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

Pastor      The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.

     Congregation   (sung) A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

   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.  Amen.



We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God

Pastor          I now ask you before God, who searches your heart, do you confess that you have sinned against God  and deserve His wrath and punishment?  Then declare so by saying, “I do confess.”

     Congregation     “I do confess.”

Pastor         Truly you should confess, for the Holy Scriptures say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive  ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

                      Second, do you, with all your heart, repent of all your sins, committed in thought, word, and   deed?  Then declare so by saying, “I do repent.”

     Congregation     “I do repent.”

Pastor          Truly, you should repent, as other penitent sinners have done:  King David, who prayed for a contrite  heart;  Peter, who wept bitterly;  the sinful woman, the prodigal son, and others.

Third, do you sincerely believe that God, by grace, for Jesus’ sake, will forgive you all your sins?  Then declare so by saying, “I do believe.”

Congregation     “I do believe.”

Pastor          Truly you should so believe, for the Holy Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that He gave His  one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Fourth, do you promise that with the help of the Holy Ghost, you will, from this time forward, reform your sinful life?  Then declare it by saying, “I do promise.”


Congregation     “I do promise.

Pastor         Truly, you should so promise, for Christ, the Lord says:  “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”     

Finally, do you believe that through me, a called servant of God, you will receive from God the  forgiveness of all your sins?   Then declare it by saying, “I do believe.

Congregation     “I do believe.”

Pastor         Upon this, your confession, I, because of my office as a called and ordained servant of God’s Word, announce the  grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place, and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I  forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Peace  be with you.  Amen.


After which the Congregation will be seated

We Hear God’s Word

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                               Hebrews 10:26-38

26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice for sins. 27 Instead, there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a raging fire that is going to consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without pity, on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think will be deserved by the person who trampled the Son of God underfoot, who considered insignificant the blood of the covenant, by which he was sanctified, and who insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said:   Vengeance is mine. I will repay.   And again: The Lord will judge his people.   31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Remember the former days when, after you were enlightened, you patiently endured a great struggle of sufferings. 33 Sometimes you were publicly shamed by insults and persecutions. At other times you became companions of those who were treated this way. 34 Indeed, you also sympathized with those in prison, and when your possessions were seized, you accepted it with joy, because you knew that you yourselves had a better and lasting possession. 35 So do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 Certainly you need patient endurance so that, after you do God’s will, you may receive what was promised. 37 For in just a little while:   The one who is coming will come and will not delay.  38 And my righteous one will live by faith, but if he shrinks back, my soul takes no pleasure in him.


Afterward the Congregation will rise out of respect for the words of our Savior

Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                  Matthew 23

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples. 2 He said, “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So practice and observe whatever they tell you. But do not do as they do, because they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads, burdens that are hard to carry, and place them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to help them. 5 They do all their works to be seen by people. They make their phylacteries wide and lengthen the fringes of their garments. 6 They love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 the greetings in the marketplaces, and being called ‘Rabbi’ by people. 8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Also do not call anyone on earth your ‘Father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 And you are not to be called ‘leaders,’ for you have one Leader, the Christ. 11 But the greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven right in front of people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor do you permit those who are trying to enter to do so.  15 Woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel the sea and the land to make one convert, and then when he is converted, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ 17 You blind fools! After all, which is greater: the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obligated.’ 19 You blind men! After all, which is greater: the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it. 21 Also, whoever swears by the temple, swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven, swears by God’s throne and by him who sits on it.

23 “Woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give ten percent of your mint, dill, and cumin, but you have neglected the more important matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. You should have done these things and not failed to do the other things. 24 Blind guides, you strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of a cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish so that the outside may become clean too.

27 “Woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that appear beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead people’s bones and every kind of uncleanness. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, experts in the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have joined with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape being condemned to hell?

34 “Look, this is why I am sending you prophets, wise men, and experts in the law. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town. 35 As a result, you will be held responsible for all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Amen I tell you: All these things will come upon this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will certainly not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

The Apostles’ Creed                                                                                                                  to the melody of

                                                                                                                       “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”


I believe in God the Father,   Maker of the heav’ns and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s own Son, of human birth.

Virgin born, the Lord incarnate,    Whom the Spirit did conceive,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate;     Our salvation to achieve.


Crucified, was dead and buried,    Down to hell in victory;

From the dead He rose the third day;     Up to heav’n triumphantly.

There at God’s right hand He’s ruling,      By His will the world is led.

He will come to judge the nations,    Both the living and the dead.


I believe in God the Spirit,    In His Church, His chosen band.

They are joined in close communion,     Holy in His sight they stand.

I believe in sins forgiven;    That the dead will rise again;

I believe in life eternal.    Amen!   Amen!   A – – men!

after which the Congregation may be seated

The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                       Philippians 3:17-20

17 Brothers, join together in imitating me and in paying attention to those who are walking according to the pattern we gave you. 18 To be sure, many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. I told you about them often, and now I am saying it while weeping. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their appetite, and their glory is in their shame. They are thinking only about earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t Get Lost on Your Walk of Faith!

The Hymn of the Day                                                                                                                       Hymn 385

                                                                                                                          “Chief of Sinners Though I Be”


1 Chief of sinners though I be,   Jesus shed his blood for me,

Died that I might live on high,   Lives that I might never die.

As the branch is to the vine,   I am his and he is mine!


2 Oh, the height of Jesus’ love,   Higher than the heav’ns above,

Deeper than the depths of sea,    Lasting as eternity,

Love that found me — wondrous thought!–   Found me when I sought him not.


3 Only Jesus can impart    Comfort to a wounded heart:

Peace that flows from sin forgiv’n,   Joy that lifts the soul to heav’n,

Faith and hope to walk with God    In the way that Enoch trod.


4 Chief of sinners though I be,    Christ is all in all to me.

All my wants to him are known;    All my sorrows are his own.

Safe with him in earthly strife,    I await the heav’nly life.


5 Strengthen me, O gracious Lord,   By your Spirit and your word.

When my wayward heart would stray,    Keep me in the narrow way;

Grace in time of need supply   While I live and when I die.

after which the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Pre-Sermon Salutation

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!  Amen.

Sermon Text                                                                                                                          Matthew 23:34-39

When People Say “No” to the LORD


The Post-Sermon Blessing


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  Amen.

We Respond To God’s Word through our Offerings

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, please) to our church address

 (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


after the offerings are brought forward, the Congregation will rise as

We Offer  the LORD our Prayers


The Prayers for this Day                                                                      

In our Prayers this morning we include:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Emily and Murray Mansch, who celebrated their wedding anniversary this past Friday.

Today’s General Prayer     closing with…..

P   Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through  Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.   In His name we offer this prayer and continue now, by praying: 

C: 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 Leave With The Lord’s Blessing

The Closing 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.    Amen.

Closing Hymn                                                                                                       Hymn 329    (Melody to 578)

                                                                                                            “Lord, Dismiss Us With Your Blessing”


1 Lord, dismiss us with your blessing;   Fill our hearts with joy and peace.

Let us each, your love possessing,   Triumph in redeeming grace.

Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us,   Trav’ling through this wilderness.


2 Thanks we give and adoration   For the gospel’s joyful sound;

May the fruits of your salvation    In our hearts and lives abound!

Ever faithful, ever faithful    To your truth may we be found.


3 So whene’er the signal’s given   Us from earth to call away,

Borne on angels’ wings to heaven,   Glad the summons to obey,

May we ever, may we ever   Reign with Christ in endless day.


Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-Service music                                                                                         



Looking Ahead At Grace Lutheran Church

Today                  Choir Rehearsal, 8:40 a.m.                        Morning Worship Service, 9:30 am

                             Fellowship, 10:45 to 11:05 a.m.     BC/SS, 11:05 to noon      

March 28 (Tues)  Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m.        

March 29 (Wed)  Fellowship Meal, 6:00 pm     Midweek Lenten Vespers Worship Service, 7:00 p.m.

April 01 (Sat) Outreach Calling/Visitation:  11:00 a.m.

April 02 (Sun)     Choir, 8:40 a.m.                 Morning Worship Service 9:30 a.m. with communion

                             Bible Classes/Sund­ay School, 11:05 a.m.       Easter Outreach Brochure Distribution, noon


Last Week At Grace Lutheran:                                                                Sunday Attendance: 61    Online: 20

Sunday School: 5          Sunday Bible Class Attendance: 25     Online:   7

Budget Offerings: $1979   Online Budget: $364.24      Online AV:  $101.31

Tuesday Bible Class: 13      Midweek Lent Service: 28      Online:   11     Offerings:   $345

Serving Us Next Week                                                                             Elders:   John Johnson, Rick Tragasz

Ushers:    Fred Cusanelli, Chris Roberts, Trent Schroeder         Altar Guild:   Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold

This Week’s Birthdays          March 30 – Marilyn Outlaw;           March 30 – Christina Strackbein;   

March 31 – Rachel Galvan;             April 01 – Debby Pulley

This Week’s Bible Classes   In Bible Class today we’ll be studying Jesus’ parables of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, plus the Laborers in the Vineyard.   In our Tuesday morning Bible class we’re studying Ecclesiastes.   This week we’ll look at the topic of our dealing with the unexpected and unavoidable situations and problems in life.

Special Holy Week Worship Services Reminder    In a week and a half we’ll have two special worship services planned.   Please make your preparations now to join us for both our Maundy Thursday (April 14) worship service with the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 p.m., and our April 15th Good Friday worship service, which will also begin at 7:00 p.m.

Easter Invitation – Brochure Distribution NEXT SUNDAY  After our normal activities on next Sunday, (April 2nd), we’re asking you to offer an hour’s worth of your time to help us distribute Easter brochure/ invitations.   This is an important part of our Easter Outreach effort, as we are planning to deliver invitations to worship with us to about 1500 homes in the area immediately around our church.  We need plenty of volunteers to do this.  We hope you’ll be able to join us, for a little exercise, fellowship, and Christian outreach next Sunday afternoon

Easter Brunch Food Items Sign-Up Sheet   On the table in the entryway you’ll find a sign-up sheet asking you to provide some food items for our post-service Easter Breakfast.   We hope you’re planning to join us for both the service and this fellowship meal.   If you can bring a brunch item  (donuts, milk, juice, other drinks, cereal and bowls, breakfast bars, desserts, hard-boiled eggs, casseroles, meats, various types of potatoes and other vegetables, etc.) please sign up today or next Sunday We also hope that you will invite and bring friends, family, and guests to join us in celebrating our Savior’s resurrection during the morning worship service, and that you’ll also ask them to join us for our Easter Brunch afterwards.

Please Bring Your Easter Lilies to Church on Easter Sunday….. – We’d like to fill the front of church with Easter lilies on Easter Sunday.  Please help us do that by bringing a lily (or lilies) to church.  To volunteer use the sign up sheet in the front lobby, or for more information.

Children’s Easter Egg Hunt Easter Sunday – We’ll hold a children’s egg hunt on our grounds between the Easter service and our brunch.   In connection with this activity…..if you’d be willing to help prepare and manage the egg hunt, please volunteer yourself to Debbie Huebner


Names Wanted – As Christians we’re called to reach as many souls as we can with the Gospel .   Please help us do that by giving your personal witness about Christ to any of your non-churched Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, and Neighbors.   With Easter almost here, we also have an opportunity to invite others to join us in our celebration of our Savior’s passion, death, and resurrection for us.   We’d like to send written invitations to your non-churched friends regarding our Holy Week and Easter Sunday worship services.  But to do that, we need your help.   Could you please give us, in writing, the names and addresses of any of your non-churched friends?   Please either give in writing, text (479-685-2440) or email ( those names to Pastor during this coming week – if possible.   Thank you.

Rummage Announcement…..In a month and half, our Women’s Group will sponsor a  rummage sale…..on May 19-20.   If you’re one of those persons who does an annual “spring cleaning” of your home, would you please keep our rummage sale in mind?   Even if you don’t do a “spring cleaning,” if you have items you could donate to our rummage sale, that would be very much appreciated.   And, if you might need to bring items earlier than the week prior to the sale, early drop offs will be available after the start of May.   Please speak with Pastor about this  when the time comes.  We’ll do our best to work with you.

Midweek Lenten Worship Service Reminder ….this Wednesday evening, March 29th we’ll conduct our final midweek Lenten Wednesday worship service, beginning at 7:00 p.m.   Under them theme “Personalities of Christ’s Passion” we’ll consider the involvement of the Apostle John in Jesus’ sufferings, death and resurrection for us.   Please join us for this service…and please also bring a non-churched friend, or friends, to share the worship of the Lord with us.

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?
  3. 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?