A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (26)

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CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 2)

6.     The Feast of Dedication Reference: John 10:22-42

The feast of dedication was not one of the original Mosaic feasts in Israel. This feast was established during the inter-testament period by Judas Maccabaeus when he freed Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greeks in 164 B.C. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu (December), which seems to be good evidence that Jesus was not born on that day. Just three years to the day after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple it was rededicated. The word dedication means “renewal.” It was also called the feast of Lights. For the eight days of the festival lights were kindled in the temple and in every Jewish home. Solomon’s porch, according to Josephus, was a remnant of the original temple of Solomon which had remained intact after the Babylonian destruction. It was on the east side and the morning sun would warm the place on a winter morning.

The Jews asked Jesus, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions and He repeats His claim to Messiahship again. Jesus attributed their unbelief to the fact that they were not His sheep and therefore did not hear His voice. The case was just the opposite with those who were His sheep.

Verses 28 and 29 are very strong security promises for the believer. “I give (not will give or may give) unto them eternal life and (if it is eternal then it must be true) they shall never perish.” The believer is pictured as being held in the hand of Christ, and His hand held in the Father’s hand, so that no man will ever be able to snatch him out of those almighty hands.

Christ follows this, not only with the claims of Messiahship, but with equality with the Father: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek reads: “I and my Father one we are.” The verb is plural and “one” is neuter singular. If “one” had been masculine, it might have implied “one person.” The neuter implies “one in essence.” The statement thus affirms the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and the unity of essence and nature. But this claim of equality with God, perfectly understood by the Jews, angered the Jews and they took up stones again to kill Him for blasphemy. They could find no fault with the good works which Jesus had done, but for a man to make Himself God was too much. Then Jesus quoted Scripture to them, as He often did: “Is it not written in your law, I have said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

You will notice that Jesus said that this was written “in your law,” that is, the Jew’s law, which means God was calling certain Jews gods. This fact is further emphasized in the statement “to whom the word of God came.” The word of God came only to the people of Israel back then. This does not mean that God called every Israelite a god; howbeit, He did call them all, children of the most High (Ps. 82:6). This verse begins, “I have said,” indicating that God had said this previously.

If we turn back to Ex. 21:6 and 22:8,9, we discover that the word translated “judges” in these verses is the Hebrew “Elohim,” or gods. Moses is also called a god in Ex. 7:1. Thus God called the judges, the prophets, and the rulers “gods” as being His representatives. Jesus is not saying that He is a god only in the sense that the judges of Israel were called gods. But rather, if they could be called gods in an official sense, how much more properly could He, who was sealed and consecrated by the Father, be called, Son of God. After answering their charge of blasphemy He appeals again to the character of His works: If they don’t bear the character of the Father, don’t believe me; but if they do, which you have admitted, believe the testimony of the works, even though you don’t believe me, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. Again, they would have stoned Him but He escaped out of their hands. So Jesus went away again “beyond Jordan” where John at the first had baptized and there He abode and many believed on Him, for John’s testimony of Him had proved to be true.

We should point out that Jesus also defended the infallibility of the Scripture on several occasions: here, when He asserted: “The scripture cannot be broken.”

7.     Discourse on Prayer Reference: Lk. 11:1-13

This chapter begins with Jesus teaching some disciples to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Jesus used almost the same format for prayer as we find in the sermon on the mount. The setting here in Luke seems altogether different from that in Matthew, although the wording of the prayer is very similar.

A The Parable of the Importunate Friend.

Jesus follows this instruction with two parables on prayer. The first is that of the Importunate Friend, and is found only in Luke. On the surface prayer seems to be a very simple thing, simply making request for a particular need. But there is more in the outworking of prayer than human wisdom can fathom. Men rationalize that if God has foreordained and foreknown everything that will ever happen from the beginning, how can man’s prayer cause anything different to happen? We can answer only by saying that God has ordained the means as well as the result, and prayer is often the means. Thus, God foreknew that a missionary would have a particular need and that He would supply that need, but He also foreknew that a group of believers ten thousand miles away would pray for that need and their prayer would be answered.

The present parable deals with the importunity of prayer. Importune means to urge with frequent application, press urgently, be insistent. The parable seems to be saying that if one keeps on asking long enough God will finally give in and grant the request. But on another occasion the Lord said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The parable is not encouraging man to act like a selfish child, always crying, “Gi’me! Gi’me!” There is more to real prayer than simply saying, “Bless the foreign missionaries,” and then taking the attitude you have discharged your duty and there is no further need to talk to God about it until another urgent request is received. Prayer should be born of concern. If a loved one is at the point of death, we do not pray in that fashion. We continue in prayer pouring out our hearts, and that is a good Pauline admonition: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). The teaching of the parable seems to be if we can by importunity obtain our requests from an unwilling friend, how much more can we expect to receive from a willing Giver?

B The Parable of Fatherhood.

This is a self-explanatory parable of God’s willingness to give good things to His children. Often people think of God only as a Judge whose only motive is to catch us doing wrong, to punish, and to take away our pleasures. God is, of course, a righteous Judge, but the believer has passed out of judgment into God’s family and now knows God as a loving Father. The objects which Christ contrasted in this parable: a stone for a loaf of bread, a serpent for a fish, and a scorpion for an egg, might seem odd at first sight, but there is a similarity in appearance between these pairs of objects. There are also contrasts between an earthly father and the Heavenly Father and between good material gifts and spiritual gifts.

Apparently the Lord did not mean that the Father would give the Person of the Holy Spirit to those who asked, for Christ made it plain that the Holy Spirit could not come as an indwelling presence until He had ascended to the Father (John 16:7). In the Greek text Holy Spirit appears without the definite article, and this usage usually means gifts or endowments of the Spirit. Christ also told His disciples while He was with them the Holy Spirit was also with them, but that later on He would be in them. Believers in the present dispensation do not have to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit; nor do they have to tarry for Him (Lk. 24:49); they receive Him and are sealed by Him upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where the present participle “after ye believed” should be translated, “upon believing”). Both of these parables lend great encouragement to the child of God to make request to His heavenly Father.

8.     Conflict With the Pharisees

A The Unpardonable Sin: Matt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:22-30; Lk. 11:14-23.

After healing a man who was blind and dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic power, but Jesus showed the inconsistency of such a charge, for in that case Satan would be fighting against himself and his kingdom would be destroyed. But if He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, this was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He illustrated this truth with the parable of the stronger man (Christ) binding the strong man (Satan) and then spoiling his goods. Matthew and Mark give the added details of what is generally called the unpardonable sin.

Christ stated that all manner of sin against the Son of man would be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven: it is an eternal sin. This passage has caused many Christians to fear, lest they have committed this sin and have therefore lost their salvation. First of all, it should be evident that anyone who is sincerely concerned about being saved through faith in Christ has not committed this sin. In fact, after one has received the gift of eternal life and has been sealed by the Spirit unto the future day of redemption, there is no sin or power that can separate him from the love of Christ, or as we have recently seen from John 10, nothing that can snatch such a one out of the hands of Christ and the Father.

The unpardonable sin is usually interpreted as ascribing the work of Christ which He wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, as these Pharisees were doing. It seems, however, there is a deeper meaning than this, for Jesus Himself prayed that these people who had thus accused Him and finally had Him crucified might be forgiven because they really didn’t know what they were doing. However, when the Holy Spirit was miraculously poured out at Pentecost and the people of Israel were enlightened by the Spirit (cf. Heb. 2:3,4; 6:4-6), they were no longer ignorant of what they were doing. We read in the book of Acts that the Jews blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which means that that generation of natural Israel committed this sin and they could not be renewed unto repentance. This, we believe, is the true meaning of that sin. It was committed by Israel, and as such it is a sin which cannot be committed today. Every sin is forgivable through faith in Christ, and no sin is forgivable apart from faith in Him.

B The Unclean Spirit Who Returned: Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26.

All we know about demon spirits is what we read in Scripture. Jesus said that when such a spirit goes out of a man he walks through dry places seeking rest and finds none, so he returns to the man from whence he departed and finds the place swept and garnished and then brings with him seven other spirits worse than himself and the latter end of the possessed man is worse than the first. This is apparently not a case where a demon had been cast out by Jesus, for we cannot imagine that these people He healed ended up the worse for His healing. It seems that the demon left of his own accord, at least when he left, the man’s house or body was left empty, unoccupied.

When a person is saved today his body is occupied by the Holy Spirit, which rules out the possibility of an evil spirit coming back to take possession again. It seems that man’s body is either occupied or strongly influenced by either the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Paul states that before we were saved, the prince of the power of the air was the spirit that was energizing us (Eph. 2:2). This does not mean that all unsaved people are demon possessed, but it does mean that Satan has access to their spirits and can mightily work in them. But thank God, the Spirit who energizes us is greater than Satan and will not permit him to take control of us, although when the Spirit is grieved and not allowed His rightful place in our lives it is possible for Satan to take advantage of us.

Some feel that this story of the unclean spirit is a case history of Israel. Israel became idolatrous in O.T. times; God sent them into captivity and they gave up their idolatry in reformation without actually committing themselves to God, and now in the days of Christ the demons have come back and the latter state of Israel is worse than it was at the first.

C The Mistaken Woman: Lk. 11:27, 28.

People often make the mistake of placing the emphasis upon the wrong thing. What they say is not necessarily untrue, but the truth is distorted. While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd, apparently admiring Jesus for His wonderful words and works, and perhaps wishing that she had had a son like that, shouted out: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” The woman was blessing the mother of Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself.

Sad to say, this mistake has become a creed in Christendom. She is honored as the Mother of God, immaculately conceived, assumed up into heaven, where she intercedes for mankind with her Son, Jesus. Mary was indeed highly honored in being chosen to become the human mother of Jesus Christ, but the gentle rebuke of Jesus in answering this woman clearly indicates that Jesus did not give Mary the exalted place above Himself which Rome has given her. Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” He did not dishonor His human mother, but as far as blessedness was concerned, any humble soul who heard God’s word and obeyed it was more blessed than His mother in the flesh.

D The Sign of the Prophet Jonah: Matt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32.

It will be noted that Matthew placed the sign of Jonah before the story of the unclean spirit, whereas Luke reverses the order. Matthew includes the statement: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,”(cf. Jonah 1:17), whereas Luke simply states: “For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” The men of Ninevah will rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of Jesus’ day, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching (cf. Jon. 3:5-10), and a greater One than Jonah was there present and they repented not.

The Queen of Sheba will also testify against those of Jesus’ day, for she came from a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 9:1-12), and a greater than Solomon was there. The generation which lived through the earthly ministry of Christ bore the greatest responsibility of any generation in the past. Earlier generations had much less light of revelation and yet in many cases they were more responsive than those of Jesus’ day. It is our belief that people in our present generation bear even a greater responsibility than those of Jesus’ day, for we have the full and completed revelation of God’s Word which leaves man totally without any excuse whatsoever.

E Parable of the Lighted Lamp: Lk. 41:33-36; cf. Matt. 5:15; Mk. 4:21; Lk. 8:16; Matt. 6:22,23. See notes on the above passages where this parable is expounded.

F Dining at the Pharisee’s House: Lk. 11:37-54.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner marvelled that Jesus did not baptize Himself before reclining at the table. It would have been a great service to the English reader if the translators had always rendered the Greek “baptizo” as baptize, instead of “wash” as in this instance. By saying that Jesus and His disciples did not wash before eating, the impression is left that Jesus paid little attention to bodily cleanliness. Also the true significance of baptism is veiled. Most Christians suppose that baptism has only one meaning and that it is a ceremony to be performed only once at the time they join the church. The Mosaic religion contained many baptisms, according to Heb. 9:10, and the Jews had added many more since Moses’ day. They ceremonially baptized themselves before every meal, as well as baptizing their eating utensils. Jesus not only did not practice these traditions of the elders, but stated that these practices had made void the word of God.

It was no doubt because Jesus understood what was going on in this Pharisee’s mind that He began pronouncing woes upon them. They washed the outside of the cup, the part that man could see, but left the inside dirty and encrusted with mold and corruption. If only they would cleanse the inside they would not have to worry about the outside. They obeyed meticulously the smallest outward requirements of the law, such as tithing of various things, but they passed over judgment and the love of God. They should have done the lesser outward things, but even more they should have done the weightier things that were inward.

He said they were like unmarked tombs that men trample underfoot without knowing it. In another place He called them whitewashed tombs, white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. There were some lawyers present also, the experts in interpreting the Bible. And they said, “Master, you have insulted us also by your words.” And Jesus fearlessly flayed them also. They placed heavy burdens upon the laity but freed themselves from all obligation. They built tombs for the prophets which their fathers had murdered, thus consenting to the deeds of their fathers. And again we see the great responsibility which devolved upon that generation. He said that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the beginning of the world, all the way from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-22), would be required of this generation. The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; they had not gone in themselves and they stopped those who were trying to go into the Kingdom.

It had not been a very pleasant dinner party for the Pharisees and Lawyers. After dinner they became very bitter and tried to draw Him out on many subjects, hoping to pounce upon some incriminating statement, whereby they might condemn Him.

For further denunciations of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 23:4-36 and Mk. 12:38-40.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (18)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

8. Christ’s Companions on Second Preaching Tour Reference: Lk. 8:1-3

While Jesus did not appoint any women apostles or place women in places of leadership, He did lift the status of women and recognize their place of ministry. On this preaching tour through Galilee He took with Him, not only the Twelve, but three women whose names are mentioned, along with many others who ministered to Him and His apostles of their means. Susanna is mentioned only this once in the N.T. Joanna is mentioned here and in Lk. 3:27 and 24:10. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times: Matt. 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1,18). We have no record of how or when these women became disciples. Nothing is said to identify Susanna. We do know that Joanna was the wife of King Herod’s steward, which is an interesting sidelight. But Mary Magdalene is described as a demon possessed woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. These women seem to have had more spiritual insight than did the apostles.

The two Marys are mentioned together at the sepulchre of Christ watching as Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and laid it in the tomb and then rolled a great stone over the door. These same two Marys were the first at the tomb, at daybreak on Sunday morning, and they were the first human beings to see the risen Christ (Mk. 16:9). And when these women told the Apostles Jesus had arisen from the dead, they believed not. God has honored and rewarded these women by placing their names in Holy Writ for hundreds of generations to further honor them for their love and devotion to Christ.

9. The Unpardonable Sin
References: Matt. 12:22-45; Mk. 3:19-30, cf. Lk. 11:14-23; 6:43-45; 11:29-32

The references in this section are quite fragmented, especially in Luke.
First, Mark tells us that the multitudes surrounded Jesus to the extent that no one could so much as eat bread. The friends of Jesus thought He was crazy and went to take charge of Him. (It is not clear whether His friends said He was crazy, or the people who were gathered.) On this occasion Jesus was casting out a demon from a blind and dumb man. When the man spoke and saw, the multitudes marveled, but the Jewish leaders accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus showed the impossibility of their charge, for if Satan was divided against himself, his power would be destroyed. But if Jesus was casting out demons by the Spirit of God it was evident that the Kingdom of God was manifesting itself.

Then follows what has been called the unpardonable sin, which has been so misinterpreted as to cause many people deep spiritual harm, for fear they have committed it. The character of the sin is said to be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin could not be any sin against Jesus Christ, for Christ plainly stated that sins against Himself were forgivable, but this sin against the Holy Spirit was not forgivable. What is this sin? Do we read anywhere of men thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
We believe first that this sin could not be committed until the Holy Spirit was given, and that was after the death and resurrection of Christ. Next, we believe that Israel’s sin against the Son of Man in crucifying Him was forgiven, for Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given, and one of the functions of the Spirit was to enlighten and reprove of sin, because they believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Pentecost the rulers of Israel were no longer acting in ignorance. In rejecting Christ now, they were sinning against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we read Stephen’s indictment in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye.” They were resisting the Holy Spirit, but when Paul was raised up as the new apostle of the Gentiles, Paul still had dealings with the people of Israel in the dispersion. On his first missionary journey when he was in Antioch of Pisidia and the Jews opposed him, it is said, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Again the same thing happened at Corinth: “And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). And finally the same thing happened when Paul reached Rome as a prisoner and preached to the Jews (Acts 28:25-28). Paul says that he himself was formerly a blasphemer, but he acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim. 1: 13), and in his hatred of Jesus he forced others to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).

Therefore, we believe that this sin against the Holy Spirit was committed by Israel during the book of Acts period. There are many warnings against sin of any kind in Paul’s epistles, but interesting enough, nowhere does he speak of an unforgivable sin in this dispensation of grace.

After this Jesus gave some similitudes of good and bad men bringing forth good and bad fruit, even as good and bad trees do. The importance of spoken words is emphasized. Men will have to give account of every idle or careless word they speak. Men will be justified or condemned by their words.

The next paragraph deals with signs. God has always dealt in signs with Israel. Paul tells us that the Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22). Here the Jews demanded a sign from Jesus to accredit His claims. The only sign He will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. It goes without saying that Jesus knew and believed the story of Jonah to be a true historic event. Those who call this story a myth impugns the testimony of Christ. While the story of Jonah is historically true it is also a parable or illustration of the nation of Israel. Israel had a commission from God to make His name known to the Gentile nations, but like Jonah they refused. As a result God dispersed them among the Gentiles, even as Jonah fled to Tarshish. On board the ship a great storm arose and Jonah was cast overboard into the sea, which is often a figure for the Gentile nations, where Jonah was miraculously preserved, even as Israel has been preserved as a distinct ethnic group over the centuries. As Jonah was vomited up out of the sea, so Israel will again be restored as a nation upon her own land. And finally as Jonah then went to Nineveh and preached and the whole city repented, so Israel, when they are restored, will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations; the so-called Great Commission will be carried out, and the nations of the earth will be converted. But in the present context Jesus makes the experience of Jonah in the belly of the sea-monster to be typical of His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus claimed to be greater than Jonah and greater than Solomon: hence the greater the condemnation which would come upon those who had the greater enlightenment and yet did not repent.

The final paragraph in this section is the record of a demon who is evicted and later returns with seven other demons worse than himself, so that the latter end of the one possessed is worse than the first. This is the story of the nation of Israel. They had reformed and evicted the demon of idolatry with which they had been possessed in the days before the dispersion, and now they refuse to be filled with the Spirit of God. When the demon returns he finds Israel “empty, swept, and garnished.” He enters in with even worse companions and takes possession of Israel again. This describes their condition in the time of great tribulation (cf. Rev. 12:13).

10. The True Kindred of Christ
References: Matt. 12:46-50; Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21

We do not think that Jesus showed disrespect for His mother and brothers according to the flesh by apparently denying them and turning to His true disciples and calling the ones who did the will of the Father in heaven, his mother and brethren. Rather Jesus was making it plain that His mother and brothers in the flesh did not have any unique or favored relationship with Himself. As we have seen, Jesus placed Himself in subjection to His earthly parents until He became of age, and even as He was dying on the cross He made provision for His mother (John 19:26,27).

Spiritual ties can bind people more closely together than physical ties. In fact, many times believers find their natural relations antagonistic to spiritual things. Jesus Himself experienced this, for we read: “Neither did His brethren believe in Him.” In fact, Jesus predicted that because of His being rejected by Israel, instead of bringing peace to the world, He would bring division: father divided against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Lk. 12:49-53).

11. The Parables of the Mysteries of the Kingdom
References: Matt. 13:1-53; Mk. 4:1-34; Lk. 8:4-18

A. Why Parables? Matt. 13:10-17; Mk. 4:10-12; Lk. 8:9.10. The Greek word “parable” means “something thrown alongside.” The parable places a truth from nature alongside a spiritual one. Since parables are figures of speech used to illustrate spiritual truth, Christ’s answer to the disciples’ question may seem paradoxical: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Also He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Thus, parables were used by Christ to reveal truth to His disciples, and to conceal truth from the unbelieving Jews.

While various spiritual applications may be drawn from the parables, it is most important to understand their primary interpretation. The parables deal with either the subjects of the Kingdom or with the chief Character of the Kingdom, who is depicted under such figures as Nobleman, King, Bridegroom, Builder, Master, Judge, Sower, Husbandman, Shepherd, Physician, Creditor, Rock and Cornerstone. After we understand the primary meaning of the parables, we may make secondary applications to ourselves in this Church age, for the simple reason that there are certain moral and spiritual truths which are unchangeable and apply to mankind in every age.

The parables in this section concern “the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of heaven in Matthew is synonymous with the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke. This Kingdom is not to be thought of either as God’s general sovereignty over the universe, or as a purely spiritual kingdom which consists of all holy and righteous beings. Both of these aspects of the Kingdom of God have always existed whereas that aspect of the Kingdom which is before us in the Gospels is something that was near at hand at that time, but its establishment was yet future. Therefore, it seems evident that the Kingdom of which Christ spoke was the Davidic, Messianic, earthly Millennial Kingdom which is the subject of Old Testament prophecy.

The word “mystery” in Scripture is not something mysterious, but rather something which had been kept secret but is now revealed. There was nothing secret about God’s purpose to establish the Messianic Kingdom upon the earth. This was one of the main burdens of Old Testament prophecy. What then is the secret about the Kingdom which these parables reveal? As we understand it, the secret is that the Kingdom was not to be established at the first coming of the Messiah, but at His second coming. The Jews expected that the Kingdom would appear immediately (Lk. 19:11). Instead, Christ taught that the Messiah must first die, and then there must be the worldwide sowing of the Gospel of the Kingdom, during which good and evil would grow up together until the end of the age, at which time He would return, judge the nations, and establish His Kingdom. Old Testament prophecy does not distinguish between the two comings of Christ and the interval in between. Isa. 61:1 is an example. Thus far a period of 2000 years has intervened between. the first and last clauses of this verse. The same is true concerning the 70 heptads of years which Daniel prophesied unto the establishment of the Kingdom. There is no intimation that 2000 years would intervene between the 69th and the 70th heptad. It is therefore not exactly correct to state that Christ came the first time to offer the Kingdom to Israel. He did preach that the Kingdom was near, but He came to present Himself to Israel as the Messiah, to be rejected, and to die a sacrificial death. It was only after this that the Kingdom could be offered to Israel, as indeed it was in the early chapters of the Acts. Those who fail to understand the meaning of the mysteries of the Kingdom teach that Christ came the first time to offer and establish the Kingdom, and that since Israel rejected the offer, God began something entirely new and different on the Day of Pentecost.

Before looking at the parables themselves, we might ask: Why would Christ adopt a method of teaching which would keep certain people from understanding the truth? To answer this, we must understand something about what is called “judicial blindness.” This means that when people harden their hearts toward God and close their eyes to the light, He confirms their action and keeps them in the dark. Christ quoted Isa. 6:9,10; read Matt. 13:13-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; John 12:39-41; Acts 28:25-27; and Rom. 11:7-12. All of these passages speak of the judicial blindness which God pronounced upon the people of Israel, first in Isaiah’s day, then in Christ’s day, and finally in Paul’s day. In all three cases Israel closed their eyes to the light which God gave them, and as a judgment God sealed their eyes shut. This blindness of Israel was not total, that is, not all Israelites were blinded, for some did believe. Paul states that “blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25,26).

It should be noted that while Matthew records seven “mystery” parables, Mark and Luke record only the first one, about the Sower. Mark then relates the parable of the candle and the parable of the unconscious growth, before giving another of the mystery parables, that of the Mustard Seed. Luke also mentions the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in a different context (13:18-21).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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