Healing the centurion’s servant
There was a centurion in Capernaum who had heard about Jesus. His favorite servant was paralyzed and near death. The centurion sent some of the Jewish elders to Jesus asking him to save his servant’s life. The elders argued his case to Jesus, pointing out that he had built a synagogue for them.
While on the way to the centurion’s house, Jesus was met by other messengers who told him that the centurion felt he wasn’t worthy to have Jesus at his home. That was why he didn’t come on his own to talk with him. Through his messengers, he asked Jesus just to say the word and his servant would be healed. He said that as an officer he could say “Go!” or “Come!” to a soldier or a servant and he would do what he said. He knew that Jesus had the same kind of authority.
Jesus was astonished. Turning to the crowd, he said “I haven’t seen such faith like this anywhere in Israel!” The servant was healed that very moment.
MT 8:5-10+13, LK 7:1-10
A widow’s son restored to life
Shortly afterwards, Jesus and his disciples went to the village of Nain, accompanied by a large crowd. As he got near the gate, a funeral procession was coming out. The person who had died was the only son of a widow. A large crowd from the village was with her. Jesus felt compassion when he saw her and said to her “Don’t cry.” He went up to the bier, touched it, and the pallbearers stopped. Speaking to the dead boy, he said “Child, I tell you, get up!” Immediately the boy sat up and began to speak, and Jesus returned him to his mother.
Awe swept over the crowd, and they began to glorify God, saying “A great prophet has arisen among us” and “God has come to help his people.” News of what had happened spread throughout Judea and the surrounding areas.
In praise of John the Baptist
Jesus left that area after he finished giving instructions to his disciples. This was so that he could teach in the cities that he was going to send them to.
John’s disciples brought him reports about everything that Jesus was doing when John was in prison. John sent two of them to Jesus to ask him “Are you the one we have been waiting for, or should we keep looking?”
Jesus was healing many people of physical and mental illness at this time. He answered their question by saying “Report back to John everything that you have seen and heard – the blind are able to see, the lame can now walk, skin diseases are cleared up, the deaf can now hear, the dead are raised back to life, and the good news is preached to the poor. Also tell him this – anyone who is not outraged by who I am is content.”
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to talk about John to the crowds. “What were you hoping to find when you went into the wilderness to see John? A reed swaying in the wind? Or perhaps a man dressed in fancy clothing? People who have glorious robes and live in luxury are in palaces. So what did you go to see? A prophet? Yes, mark my words: he’s that and far more. John is the one that the ancient prophets wrote about with these words – ‘Listen! I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way before you.’ Mark my words, no prophet ever born is greater than John the Baptist, but even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.
The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully and rapidly coming closer from the time John began preaching until now, and violent people have tried to hamper it by trying to take it by force. All of the Law and the prophets pointed to this time, and if you’re able to believe it, he is the Elijah who was foretold. Listen closely to this!”
And when everyone heard this, they praised God because John had baptized them. But since the Pharisees and the experts in religious law had not been baptized by John, they rejected God’s plan for them.
MT 11:1-15, LK 7:18-30
An unresponsive generation
“What shall I compare this generation to? It is like a bunch of children sitting around saying to each other ‘We played a happy tune but you didn’t dance to it. We sang a sad tune but you didn’t grieve!’ For John doesn’t make merry or celebrate by eating or drinking, and they say he’s possessed. On the other hand, the Son of Man enjoys drinking and feasting and they accuse him of being a glutton and a drunkard, and of hanging around with people who can’t be redeemed! Yet the fruit of wisdom justifies it.”
MT 11:16-19, LK 7:31-35
He then began to denounce the towns where he had performed the most miracles, because they didn’t turn away from their sinful behavior.
“It is terrible to be you, Chorazin! It is sad to be you, Bethsaida! For if Tyre and Sidon had seen the miracles that you saw, they would have repented long ago, wearing sackcloth and ashes! Mark my words – it will be easier on those cities on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you ever see the kingdom of heaven? No, you will go down among the dead. Even the wicked town of Sodom would have been saved if it had seen the miracles you saw. That town will get off lightly on the day of judgment in comparison to you.”
Then, speaking only to his disciples, he said “Whoever hears your message hears my message. Whoever rejects what you have to say rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the One who sent me.”
MT 11:20-24, LK 10:13-16
Knowledge of Father and Son
Then Jesus became filled with joy from the Holy Spirit and said “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because it pleased you to hide this knowledge from those who are wise and educated, and have revealed everything to children. My Father has entrusted me with everything. Only the Father knows the Son, and the Father is only known by the Son, and those whom the Son has chosen.”
MT 11:25-27, LK 10:21-22
“Come to me, everyone who is worn down by life, and I will raise you up. Everyone, work alongside me and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and with me you will find rest. If we share the work together it will be easier, because I will give you only light burdens.”
Speaking privately to his disciples, he said “Your eyes and ears are blessed because of what they see and hear! There are many prophets, kings, and righteous people who wanted to see and hear the things you see and hear now, yet didn’t.”
MT 13:16-17, LK 10:23-24
Much forgiveness, much love
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with him at his home. He accepted the invitation, and as he was reclining at the dinner table, a woman from that town who was known as a sinner entered the home, carrying an alabaster flask filled with expensive perfume. Weeping, she knelt behind him at his feet with her tears falling upon them. She wiped her tears from his feet with her hair and then began to kiss his feet and anoint them with the perfume.
When the Pharisee noticed what was happening, he thought to himself “If this man really were a prophet he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”
Jesus, knowing his host’s thoughts, said “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Jesus then told him a parable. “Say there is a man who loaned money to two people. To one he loaned $5000 and to the other he loaned $500. Neither one was able to pay him back, so he graciously canceled both their debts. Which one do you think loved him more?”
“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt,” Simon answered.
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. Then he gestured towards the woman and said to Simon “Do you notice this woman here? When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me any water to wash the dust off my feet as most people do, but she has washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss as most people do, but she has not quit kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil as most people do, but she has anointed my feet with expensive perfume. Therefore, her many sins are forgiven because she loves me greatly, but the one who has a smaller debt of sin to forgive shows a small amount of love.”
Then, looking at the woman, he said “Your sins are forgiven.”
Those who were at the table with him said amongst themselves, “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. You may go in peace.”
Many women support Jesus’ work
Jesus was traveling all over the region, preaching and sharing the good news of the kingdom of God. His 12 disciples were with him, along with women he had healed. They included Mary Magdalene, (who had been freed from seven demons), Joanna the wife of Chuza (who was King Herod’s steward), Susanna, and many others who were supporting them and their ministry from their own personal resources.
Driving out demons
A man who was possessed by a demon was brought to Jesus. The demon had made him blind and unable to speak. When Jesus healed him, he was suddenly able to speak and see again. The crowds were amazed, saying “We’ve never seen this in Israel. Perhaps this is the son of King David!”
When the Pharisees heard about this they said “This man drives out demons with Beelzebub.” Some, to test him, were demanding to see him perform a miracle. Even his own family thought he was crazy.
Jesus knew their thoughts and said “A divided kingdom cannot stand. No one can enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Thus, if the king of demons drives out demons he is fighting against himself. How can his kingdom stand then? If I drive out demons by the king of demons, then who is it that your own people drive them out by? Accuse them of the same thing you accuse me of! Now, if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then this is proof that the kingdom of God has arrived among you.”
“People will be forgiven for whatever they do and whatever they say unless they speak against the Holy Spirit. That is unforgivable. Anyone who is not with me is against me, and scatters rather than gathers.” He said this because they were saying he had an evil spirit in him.
MT 9:32-34, MT 12:22-32, MK 3:20-30, LK 11:14-23, LK 12:10
The sign of Jonah
Then some of the Jewish leaders including the scribes and Pharisees said to him “Teacher, show us a sign.”
But he said “An evil generation demands a sign, but only the sign of the prophet Jonah will be given. In the same way that Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for the same amount of time. In the same way that Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation. The men of Nineveh will stand up and condemn this generation at the day of judgment, because they repented when Jonah spoke to them, and something even greater than Jonah is here right now! The Queen of Sheba, the Queen of the south, will also rise up and condemn this generation at the day of judgment, because she traveled all the way from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and something even greater than Solomon is here right now!”
MT 12:38-42, LK 11:29-32
An unclean spirit’s return
“When an unclean spirit is cast out of a person, it wanders through waterless places looking for a place to rest. When it doesn’t find anywhere to rest, it says to itself ‘I will return to the house that I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and gathers up seven other spirits who are more evil than it is, and they enter and make themselves at home in the man. The result is that the man is now worse off than he was before. This is how it will be for this evil generation.”
MT 12:43-45, LK 11:24-26
While he was talking, a woman in the crowd spoke up and said “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and blessed is the one who nursed you!”
Jesus replied “Those who hear and keep the word of God are even more blessed!”
His mother and siblings came to him while he was speaking with a large crowd but they couldn’t reach him. They sent word that they wanted to speak with him. Someone in the crowd told him “Look, your mother and siblings are standing outside waiting to speak with you.”
Instead of going out, he said “Who is my family?” Indicating his followers who were seated in a circle around him, he said “Here they are! Whoever hears and does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and sister.”
MT 12:46-50, MK 3:31-35, LK 8:19-21
The parable of the sower
Jesus was again teaching beside the sea. He decided to teach while sitting in a boat in the water because a large crowd had gathered around him. The crowd stood on the shore to listen to him. They had come to hear him from every town.
He taught them many things using parables, including this one: “Think about the person who went out to sow his field. While he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path and birds came and ate it. Other seeds fell where there were more rocks then soil. The seed sprang up quickly, but then withered just as quickly in the sun because it didn’t have deep roots to gather moisture. Other seeds fell among the thorn bushes and the thorns made it impossible for them to produce a crop. Yet other seeds fell on good ground and were able to produce 30, 60, even 100 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears should listen to this!”
MT 13:1-9, MK 4:1-9, LK 8:4-8
When Jesus was alone with his disciples, they came up to him and said “Why do you speak to people in parables? What does the parable of the sower mean?”
Jesus answered them “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been revealed to you but not to everyone. For them, the information is transmitted in parables so that Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. It says ‘They may listen but never understand, and they may look and never see. For people’s hearts have grown hard and their ears have grown deaf, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they might see, hear, and then understand and turn back, and I would heal them.'”
MT 13:10-15, MK 4:10-12, LK 8:9-10
The parable of the sower explained
Jesus said “Do you not understand this parable? Then how are you going to be able to understand any of them? The seed is the word of God. The sower is the one who shares it with others. The people along the path are those who have heard the message about the kingdom and don’t understand it. Satan has snatched away the words that were sown in their hearts so they would not believe and be saved.”
As for the seed sown on rocky ground, this represents the people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. However, because they are not rooted in their faith, they believe for a little while but stumble when troubles come because of the word.
Regarding the seed sown among thorns, these are the people who hear the word but are distracted and paralyzed by worry and greed, and the word is not able to take root in them and produce any fruit.
But the seed sown on good ground represents the people who hear the word with honest and open hearts. They understand it, welcome it, and through endurance are able to bear much fruit, even up to 100 times what was sown.”
MT 13:18-24, MK 4:13-20, LK 8:11-15
Use your gifts
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus told the disciples a parable because they thought that the kingdom of God was coming soon.
“A rich man went away on a long journey. He called his servants to him and gave them some of his money to do business with until he returned. To one he gave five coins, to another, two, and to the last, only one. He gave each servant only what he could handle, dividing it according their ability.
When he returned he asked the servants about the money he had entrusted them with. The first had doubled the money, turning five coins into ten. The second had also doubled his money, turning two coins into four. The last returned the money that the master had given him because he had buried it in a hole to keep it safe.
The master was pleased with the first two. He said ‘Well done, good and faithful servants. You were responsible with a few things; I will now put you in charge of many things.’ They were entrusted with even more responsibility.
When he spoke with the last servant he was dismayed. The servant said ‘I was afraid of you. You’re a difficult man. You collect what you don’t deposit and reap you don’t sow. Because I was afraid of you, I hid your money in the ground so that I could give it back to you.’
The master started yelling at him saying ‘If you knew this is how I acted then why did you bury my money? You knew that I was going to want it back with interest. You should have at least put the money in the bank, not bury it in a hole, doing nothing with it.’ He said to the other servants nearby, ‘Take the one coin he has and give it to the one who has produced the most coins.’ The other servants looked at him and said ‘But he already has 10 coins – why would you give him more?’ The master replied ‘Because if you correctly use what you have, you will get more, but if you don’t use it at all you will have even less.’”
LK 19:11-27, MT 25:14-30, (MK 4:25, LK 8:18, MT 13:12)
The parable of the growing seed
“The kingdom of heaven is also like this; a man scatters seed, and without his knowledge or assistance the seed sprouts and grows over time. The soil makes the seed grow all by itself. First there was a leaf blade, then the heads of wheat formed, and finally the grain ripened. As soon the crop was ready, the man sent for the harvesters.”
The parable of the wheat and the weeds
Jesus offered his listeners another parable. “The kingdom of heaven may be thought of as being like a farmer who sowed good wheat seed in his field. One night while he slept, his enemy came and planted weeds in amongst the good wheat seed. Later the plants sprouted. The wheat and weeds had grown up together.
The man’s servants asked him ‘Didn’t you only sow wheat here? Then why are there weeds?’
‘This was done by an enemy!’ he said.
His servants asked him ‘Do you want us to pull out the weeds?’
‘No’ he said. ‘You might accidentally uproot the good wheat at the same time. Let them both grow together until harvest time. Then I will tell the reapers to sort out the weeds, tie them in bundles, and burn them, but put the wheat into the barn.'”
The parable of the mustard seed
“How can I explain what the kingdom of God is like? What can I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed sown in the ground. It is smaller than any other seed, but when grown, it is a huge tree, taller than any plant in the garden. It becomes a tree big enough for birds to make nests in its large branches.”
MT 13:31-32, MK 4:30-32, LK 13:18-19
The parable of the yeast
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into 50 pounds of flour until the yeast spread through all of it, making it all leavened.”
MT 13:33, LK 13:20-21
Jesus gave the message of the kingdom to the crowds only in parables, as they were able to hear. This fulfilled the prophecy which said “I will open my mouth in parables; I will declare things kept hidden from the beginning of the world.” However, he privately explained what he had said to his disciples.
MT 13:34-35, MK 4:33-34
The meaning of the parable of the wheat and the weeds
Jesus sent away the crowds and went into the house. His disciples asked him to explain the parable of the wheat and the weeds to them.
He answered “The Son of Man is the one who sows the good seed, the field is the world, and the sons of the kingdom are the good seed. The weeds are the sons of the Devil, who sowed them. The harvest represents the end of the age, while the harvesters are angels.”
“In the same way that the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will separate out every stumbling block and everyone who does not follow the Law of God. The angels will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then, all the godly people will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears to hear should listen to this!”
The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure a man discovered that was buried in a field. After he found it, he covered it back up again, and in his joy he went and sold everything he had to buy that field.”
“Also, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant on a quest for fine pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he went and sold everything he had so he could buy it.”
The parable of the net
“The kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It gathers up every kind of fish, and when it is full, the fishermen drag it ashore and put the good fish into containers but throw away the worthless ones.”
Jesus asked them “Have you understood what I have told you?”
“Yes,” they said.
“Therefore, every teacher of the Law who has been instructed in the nature of the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings new treasures as well as old out of his storeroom.”
Jesus left there after finishing these parables.