Parables of Jesus: Small Story, Big Idea
Jesus was a master teacher, and one of his tools was the parable. A short story with a central point, a parable brought that point home in a way that could be understood and remembered. The truth of theses parables doesn't change. So, today, they are still small stories with big meanings!
"A Debt of Love" (Luke 7:36-50)
NOCC's mission statement says we are here to facilitate a "passionate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Of course, not everyone demonstrates passion the same way-- but everyone understands when they are feeling passion and when they are not. What's the key to having this passion in our lives? Jesus explains it when he links the love we have for God with the experiences we have of forgiveness.
"The Dirt They Live In"(Luke 8:4-8; 11-15)
The gospel is like seed that is planted everywhere, so everyone has a chance to respond. But not everyone receives the gospel the same way. What's the difference? In large part, how we receive the gospel is related to how we are made up individually. So, if we want people to have a chance to believe, we have to pay attention to the dirt they live in!
"Good Neighbors"(Luke 10:25-37)
So who exactly is this “neighbor” I’m supposed to love the way I love myself? How do I know? And what does that “love” look like? Your neighbor just may be someone you don’t like, and have trouble seeing yourself “loving”. But God can change all that and give you the ability to love your neighbors!
Sometimes the easy thing is to just stop -- stop trying, stop talking to God, stop asking for help. But for some reason God wants us to persist, and Jesus teaches us that the very persistence we want to avoid might be exactly what we are needing.
"Strength"(Luke 11: 14-26)
Broken things are rarely strong. Strength comes from not being broken, but brokenness can come individually and in community. In the U.S. right now, there is a lot of division -- sometimes so strong that people who say they love one another are inviting the other to leave and never come back. But real strength comes in unity before the Lord, and there are specific steps we can take to limit the disunity and build on the unity God has given us.
"Assumptions" (Luke 12:13-21)
It is easy to make assumptions based on our own experiences -- particular assumptions about our personal lives. But we all know assumptions can get us in trouble, and it is dangerous to assume without checking it out.
"What's in a Kingdom?" (Luke 13)
Kingdom is an almost meaningless word to Americans. So, the "Kingdom of Heaven" is doubly troublesome -- not only do we have to figure out what "heaven" is, we have to then figure out how a word like "kingdom" relates to heaven. Of course the existing thing is, there IS a Kingdom of Heaven -- and if we pay attention we can understand what that means!
"Lost and Found" (Luke 15:8-32)
You know how important something (or someone) is to you when you lose it. So, if you lose it, what you do sheds light on how important it really is! What has Jesus done, and what does that say about how he thinks of you? Knowing the answer can change your life.
"Bad Managers" (Luke 16:1-15)
Are you an owner or manager? It's a trick question! But the answer lies in understanding the parables about bad management in Luke 16.
"Is This All There Is?" (Luke 16:19-31)
Every human being has one thing in common -- there will come a time when his life on earth ends. Sounds heavy -- even somber -- but it is true. So the question is, what then? And does anything that we do now affect what happens then? Jesus gave us the answer in a story.
"Investment" (Luke 19:11-27)
Here are some basic questions about life: What do you have? How did you get it? What have you done with it? What will you end up with? The answer to these questions are determined by the substance of our lives -- and the good news is, we get to determine that!
"Tenants" (Luke 20:9-19)
If we don't really own this life, who does? And when we find out who does, how does that affect how we live? Many of us think "It's my life, and I"ll do what I want." So how's that working for you?