126: Psalms 78:3-4
365 Prophecies: Prophecy 126
The Messiah will teach by parables and reveal things about God that have never been known or understood before.
Old Testament Prediction:
Psalms 78:3-4 “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3.Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.”
New Testament Fulfillment:
Matthew 13:10-13 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”
John 14:7-9 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…”
Romans 16:25 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began…”
When a human being thinks, he does so by the use of pictures, not words. Words communicate truth, but the mind conveys these truths to the heart by images of the objects that are perceived. When truths are communicated by common objects that are familiar to us, we see a picture of this object in our mind. It is then that we can ponder these representations and understand how they relate to the story that is being told. The Bible designates Jesus as the Creator of all that exists (Colossians 1:17). Therefore, His teaching originates from the source of all knowledge and contains the wisdom of eternity.
Prophecy 125 describes the Messiah’s use of Parables as an effective method of conveying truth. These simple stories which use familiar illustrations, reveal formerly hidden knowledge about the Kingdom of God and Heaven itself.
Jesus defined the purpose of His parables as a way to reveal spiritual truth to those who have a sincere heart for God. Those who are callous, uncaring, and uninterested in the things of God, the parables serve to conceal these truths.
Matthew 13:10-13 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Jesus said that the use of parables for the purpose of revealing the hidden truths of God, was predicted by Isaiah 6:9-10, Prophecy 163.
Matthew 13:14-17 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Truths revealed in the 28 parables that Jesus taught:
1. The Sower
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Mark 4:3-9, 13-20
Matthew 13:18-23 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The words of the kingdom of God and how they are heard, perceived, and received; rely upon the condition of the human heart. The heart is the soil; the seed is the word of God. Depending on the condition of the soil (heart), the word of God can either be greatly hindered or obstructed altogether.
The Sower is the Holy Spirit who declares the truth of Jesus to the hearts of all people.
- The Wayside: Is a path that has been compacted. The heart of this person has been hardened by various circumstances of his life. The Seed is the good news about Jesus. When this person hears that he can be saved through repentance and by turning to Jesus as his Savior, he doesn’t understand. Because of the hardness of his heart and his inability to receive the truth of what Jesus has accomplished, he is not able to receive the Lord and be saved. The devil comes soon after and takes away the seed of truth about Jesus.
- The Stony Places: This person receives the good news about Jesus when it is presented to him. But because he has not yet been rooted in the word of God, he is easily overcome by the trials and difficulties of life. This prevents this person from continuing with Jesus, and he falls away.
- The Thorns: Represents the worries and concerns of this life and the pursuit of things in the world: career, making money, buying and selling, pleasure, and personal relationships. All these can choke out the presence of Jesus in a person’s life and prevent him from growing. Eventually, this individual may fall away from the Lord and no longer walk with Him.
- The Good Ground: A heart prepared. This person hears the good news about Jesus; receives Him as his Savior; and avoids the pitfalls of allowing his heart to become hardened, discouragement by trials, and being overcome by the pursuits and pleasures of this world. This individual goes on to live a fruitful and productive life for Jesus and leads others to the Lord.
These realities of the human heart are the conditions which ultimately allow a person to receive Jesus as their Savior, or miss Him altogether.
Jesus implies that the first three conditions of the heart, can be changed—if the person becomes aware of these hindrances, and takes steps to eliminate these barriers to faith. If however, the hard heart, trials and difficulties, and cares of this world—are not properly dealt with, a continued relationship with Jesus is impossible.
Ultimately, it is the word of God and the Holy Spirit—working together, which either soften the heart and prepare it to receive Jesus, or harden heart and confirm an unwilling heart to reject Jesus.
We should note that none of these conditions of the heart are the fault of God. In each example, it was the person who allowed these circumstances in their life—which prevented them from going forward with Jesus. God is always willing to save anyone who will humble themselves and turn to Jesus for their salvation.
If we use the statistics given by Jesus in this Parable, then only one person in four, who hears the good news about Jesus, will continue with Him and be saved. It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus; we must persist with Him throughout our life, no matter what else comes along. Jesus said: “He that endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:13
2. The Tares
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Matthew 13:24-30 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
Within the church, there will be pretend believers. These false followers of Jesus are placed in the church by satan. The certainty of their commitment to Christ cannot correctly be discerned by the other members in the church. Struggles with sin and ongoing failures are not necessarily an indication of a false or insincere commitment to Christ. It is not the place of the church members to uproot these supposedly false believers, but to love them and allow the Lord, at His return, to determine whether they are genuine or not. Jesus alone will have the right to tear out these Tares or Weeds and burn them.
3. The Growing Seed
Mark 4:26-32 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
The growth of the church is not something that can be understood or perceived by conventional human wisdom. God often chooses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Some of the fastest growing churches in the world have, as their pastors, men whom the world would never choose for any position of leadership. From the birth of Jesus’ church on Pentecost, it has been unstoppable because it is a work of the Holy Spirit and not of men. This parable explains this phenomenon in common word pictures that anyone can understand.
4. The Mustard Seed
Matthew 13:31-32 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
The primary focus of this parable is not the size of the seed but the results of its growth. Under normal circumstances, a mustard seed does not grow into a tree. Most of these tiny seeds increase in size only large enough to become a bush. The fact that this seed is described by Jesus as becoming a tree large enough for the birds of the air to nest upon its branches means that something unnatural has occurred.
The lukewarm church of the last days is described by Jesus in the Book of Revelation, in startling terms:
Revelation 3:17 Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
The mega churches of today are rich and have many entertaining programs that attract thousands to their services. Sadly, they often lack spiritual depth and the intended purpose of the church—to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Many reside in these large churches, thinking that they are saved without ever coming to a heartfelt repentance for their sins and a sincere turning to Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life. They nest in the branches of these abnormally fast growing trees, but they do not know Jesus by the experience of repentance and salvation.
The term the birds of the air come and nest in its branches is a common phrase from the Bible that is used to illustrate the presence of evil. These members are the false believers in the church that Jesus depicted in the parable of the Tares, described in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
Deuteronomy 28:26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away.
1 Samuel 17:44 And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!”
The church of the last days is marked by many who attend but are not saved—those who nest in the branches of the church but do not come into genuine salvation. These unsaved, leave the church and write books claiming to be former believers in Jesus Christ who can “no longer believe” because of the supposed “contradictions” they found in following Jesus and believing the Bible. The truth is: these individuals never were saved; therefore, they did not understand the truth of salvation and could not continue with Jesus.
5. The Leaven
Matthew 13:33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Like the parable of the Mustard Seed, the Leaven uses language that would, under normal circumstances, have a clear definition. Many of us see this particular parable as perhaps having a dual meaning. First, leaven is often used to describe sin in the Bible. Other places, leaven is used to describe false doctrine or teaching:
Matthew 16:11-12 “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Leaven or yeast causes a putrefaction process to begin in newly formed bread dough. The gas produced by this process causes the bread to be puffed up. Only a small amount of yeast or leaven is required to cause this process because it quickly spreads throughout the bread and eventually effects the entire lump of dough.
For this reason, sin is like leaven. It causes putrefaction and a puffing up of pride in the life of the person who practices it. Putrefaction is the beginning of death, as sin is the beginning of death.
A possible secondary meaning for the term leaven, that is described in this parable, is not that leaven is speaking of sin—but instead, used to describe a process of distribution. Leaven is spread by a small amount that eventually permeates a large area. Jesus could be using a commonly understood process to explain how the gospel is dispersed. As leaven begins small and eventually permeates the entire lump of dough, the Gospel began small but has today permeated the entire world.
6. The Hidden Treasure
Matthew 13:44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
In this parable, the Treasure is the human soul. The Field is the earth. The Man who finds this treasure is Jesus who, for His joy over finding this treasure of human souls, gives up His very life to redeem the earth and all those who will believe in Him for their salvation. It certainly does not mean the commonly interpreted idea that the treasure is the gospel, and we must sell all that we have to buy it. This would place salvation in our hands and make salvation our work instead an act of God’s Grace. The Bible is explicit in the foundation that salvation is by grace through faith, not of ourselves.
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast…
7. The Pearl of Great Price
Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
The meaning of this parable is similar to the previous parable, The Hidden Treasure. In the Hidden Treasure, the individual person is the treasure whom Jesus sees hidden in the earth. In the parable of the Pearl of Great Price, the church is the treasure that Jesus died to save and sanctify. When we see the city of New Jerusalem descend out of heaven and hover just above the earth, as described in the Book of Revelation Chapter 21, the gates of the city are made of giant pearls. A pearl is created by irritation or the process of trials. A tiny grain of sand becomes lodged inside a clam. This sand irritates the animal within the shell, and it begins to place layer upon layer of a substance that covers the grain of sand, causing it to become a beautiful pearl. Much in the same way that the church of Jesus is made beautiful, as the Lord allows us to experience certain irritations or trials in our life. Over the course of time, we become more beautiful, as we place layer upon layer of the Love of God and our devotion to Him, over our trials and continue to trust in the Lord.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish…
Revelation 21:21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl.
8. The Net
Matthew 13:47-50 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
This parable is similar to the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. During the present age in which the Holy Spirit is gathering a bride for Jesus, who is His church, many come into the net but not all are saved. There are always those who come into the church, sit in the chairs, listen to the messages, do good works, and even profess that they are saved. In reality, these individuals never developed a heartfelt desire to repent of their sins and come to Jesus for their salvation. These people knew who Jesus is, and have heard the message of salvation and what is required, but they never took the steps necessary to be saved.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”
9.The Lost Sheep
Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
The importance of each individual person is seen in this parable. Jesus did not die for the world as a package deal. He died for each and every unique person. He loves you as much as He loves any other person whom He gave His life for. When Jesus was looking ahead from the cross through all the countless ages of time, He was gazing into your beautiful face and speaking to you, “I am doing this for you because I love you so much.”
If you stray from the Lord—because you are so important to Him, He will leave the other sheep who are already with Him and go out to find you and bring you back to Himself.
There is an interesting story of the early shepherds in Israel.
If a particular sheep continually strayed from the shepherd, he would go out to find this wayward lamb. When found, the shepherd would break one or two of the legs of the lamb who continually strayed. This shepherd would then bind up the broken legs and carry the lamb on his back until the wounds had healed. In the process of being carried by the shepherd and by remaining so close to him continually, the lamb would fall in love with his master. After his wounds had healed and the breaking process was over, this lamb would never again stray from his shepherd.
10.The Unforgiving Servant
Matthew 18:23-35 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
Forgiveness is one of the most important principles of Jesus’ kingdom. In fact, it is so important that Jesus stated that the Father will not forgive you unless you forgive those who have sinned against you.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Forgiveness is accomplished by letting a matter go and moving on past the hurt and all of the other emotions we feel. Forgiveness is treating the offending person as if nothing had ever happened. Many people have stated that “they can forgive, but they cannot forget.” This is actually a very selfish way of looking at forgiveness. You must forget the matter, or you will never be able to move out of the bitterness and anger you feel for the one who hurt you. Of course, you will always remember what has happened; but you must not remember so as to repeat your former anger, the desire for revenge, or determine that you really do not want to see this person ever again. We must forgive, and we must forget the wrong that was done to us and allow this person back into our life and treat them as if nothing has ever happened.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant, a man owes a debt which is so large, that it is impossible that he could ever repay what is required. He requests not only forgiveness but that the debt be forgotten. His request is granted, and he is set free. A short time later, this forgiven man finds another who owes him a small amount. This debtor asks that he might be forgiven as the man who owed a great amount was also forgiven. The one forgiven much will not forgive and forget the small debt of the man who asks his forgiveness.
Jesus said that this man will therefore not be forgiven the large and impossible debt that he owed. Each one of us owes a debt to God for our sins that is so large—we cannot ever pay what is required. Others who sin against us owe us a much smaller debt.
The language is clear: Either we forgive and forget the offenses that others have committed against us, or Jesus will not forgive us for the offenses we have committed against God.
11. The Parable of the workers in the vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16 For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?’7 They said to him, “Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ 8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, “These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’13 But he answered one of them and said, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
Heaven is available for every person. There is no sin that can keep a person out of the presence of God except one: Failure to receive the salvation that was forever perfected in Jesus sacrifice upon the cross. God is ready and willing to forgive us of every sin that we have committed, but we must come in repentance and come believing that Jesus death and resurrection are sufficient to cleanse us.
This is the good news that Jesus came to declare to us all, and He illustrates how this operates here in the Parable of the workers and the vineyard.
The simplicity of this story is described by workers who come to be hired, some early, some later. At the end of the day, all the workers receive the same wages. Although those who came late, only worked a short time, they receive the same as those who came to work much earlier.
A person can be saved early in their life, or later, even at the last few minutes of their life. Both will receive the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life. I received Jesus as my Savior when I was 19 years old. I have spent the past 37 years serving the Lord and it has been the greatest joy of my life to do so. My dear father was unwilling to serve the Lord for his entire life, until he reached his 74th year. When he learned that he only had about a year to live, he decided that he was ready to receive the Lord as his Savior. I was not angry that he would receive the same eternal life as I had received so many years before. I was just happy that he did come to the Lord before it was too late.
This is the point of Jesus Parable.
You may have ruined your life and are now near it’s end. You may have a multitude of regrets and a great burden of guilt pressing down upon your heart. Jesus will forgive you of all yours sins and reward you with eternal life for your trust in Him as your Savior, even now at the end of your life. All you must do is come to Him humbly, in sorrow for your past sins, and ask Him to forgive you. He will lift the burden of guilt, take away the sting of all your past sins, and give you a new life, even at the end of your life. The Lord is so merciful and forgiving, He will welcome you no matter how many sins you have committed, or how long you have waited. The truth of this is seen in the thief who was next to Jesus, also being crucified. He called out to the Lord at the end of his life of crime, and Jesus told him that on that day when He also died, this one time thief would be with Jesus in paradise. See The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, for more details.
We must not confuse the language of “work” here in this Parable with earning our salvation. This is not the intent of this illustration. Jesus is not saying that you must earn your right to heaven, for only He could have earned this right for you by His death and resurrection. The work has been done, fully accomplished by Jesus. All you must do is come to Him in faith that His death has paid for your sins, and He will grant you complete forgiveness and heaven will be your final and permanent destination.
12. The Two Sons
Matthew 21:28-32 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.”
The tax collectors and sinners were the first group who would not serve Jesus at first, but later changed their minds. The second group are the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, who claimed to be serving God, but were only serving their own selfish ambitions.
This is both a wonderful and a terrible parable. If you have ever rejected Jesus in your life but then later changed your mind and decided to receive Him, He will accept you. On the other hand, if you eagerly accepted Jesus’ offer to be the Lord and Savior of your life and then later choose not to continue following Him, it will be almost impossible to restore you again to a faith that can save you. We must abide continuously with Jesus if we truly want to be saved. It is not enough to confess that we know Jesus, but then disingenuously live our lives for Him. There will be many on the final day of their judgement who will believe that they are saved, whom Jesus will proclaim I never knew you. In other words, He never had a close and personal relationship with these people. Many people confess Jesus as their Savior, but they will not allow Him to be Lord of their life. True salvation occurs when a person follows and serves Jesus as both the Savior of their sins and the Lord of their life while abiding with Jesus their entire life. When the last breath is breathed and the final deed is done, only those who have obeyed the gospel and have sincerely received Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
13. The Wicked Vinedressers
Matthew 21:33-44 “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’S doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?” “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
This parable is a scathing rebuke against the leaders of Israel at the time Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, in fulfillment of all the Old Testament Prophecies.
The landowner is God. The vineyard that He planted was Israel (See Isaiah 5). The hedge around her was God’s protection from all enemies. The vinedressers, whom He leased the vineyard to, were the leaders in Israel who were to teach and declare the words of God to the people. The ones whom the vinedressers took and beat, stoned and killed, were the prophets, priests, and kings, whom God sent to speak His words to the leaders of Israel. God was seeking the fruit of righteousness from Israel, His vineyard. Instead, all He received was sour grapes. The leaders of Israel continually killed and persecuted all those whom God sent to them.
Finally, God sent His only Son to whom the leaders in Israel arrested, tried, beat, tortured, and crucified. Therefore, God will destroy these religious leaders in Israel and give the kingdom of God to the Gentile nations who believed Him and received His Son as their Savior.
The final remarks are stunning: If we fall on Jesus, the Messiah, the Rock, in a broken heart of repentance, though we will be crushed, we will also be saved. If, however, this Rock falls on us in Judgement, without our repentance and turning to Him for salvation, He will grind us to powder and will be lost forever.
14. The Wedding of the King’s Son
Matthew 22:1-14 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
A continuing rebuke against the false religion of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus describes a story in which a King arranges a marriage for his Son. The King is God the Father; His Son is Jesus Christ. The wedding is the uniting of Jesus with those who receive Him and come into His church to be His bride. This is accomplished by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, not by keeping the laws of Moses or the traditions of the elders in Israel.
Those who believe in Jesus and are united with Him as His church are called His bride—the Lambs’s wife.
Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
Ephesians 5 uses the illustration of an earthly husband who becomes one with his bride in the same way that Jesus become one with all those who have received Him.
Ephesians 5:25-32 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Israel was first invited to come to the wedding, but they were not willing. Instead, they killed those who were sent with the Lord’s invitation. God was angry with Israel and allowed her enemies to attack, destroy, and take captive the nation of Israel and her people.
The Father then ordered other servants—the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus—to go out with the good news that He has paid the price of our Salvation, and anyone who is willing can be forgiven and saved. Those who believe this good news are given garments of righteousness from God and are invited to attend the wedding of the Son, described in Revelation Chapter 19.
Revelation 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
In this Parable of the wedding feast, there is a man who has come to the gathering without a wedding garment. The acceptable wedding garment is apparently the robe of righteousness that can come only from Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He has made for us.
Isaiah 61:10 10 …for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. (ESV)
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
All those in attendance at this wedding have on the robes of Jesus’ righteousness (His sacrifice for our sins), except this one man. When he is questioned as to how he came into the wedding without the proper garments, he is speechless. At the Great White Throne described in Revelation Chapter 20, all those who come to this place of judgement for their life will also be speechless. They will have no excuse that God will accept for why they did not receive the pardon that was offered to them through Jesus Christ. All of those who are seen at the Great White Throne are found insufficient for salvation and are cast into the Lake of Fire. In the same way, this man who was wearing the garments of his own righteousness was found insufficient to enter heaven and was cast into outer darkness.
15. The Great Supper
Luke 14:16-24 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”
Similar to the preceding Wedding of the King’s Son, this parable contains an invitation that is also unheeded. The invitation is given to attend the Supper in honor of the Son and His bride—the church. This appears to be a reference to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, described in the Book of Revelation Chapter 19:
Revelation 19:7-9 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
After the Rapture has taken place and the church is removed from the earth, all those who have received Jesus as their Savior will attend a great banquet in heaven, wearing the righteous garments given to them by Jesus. The wedding garments of the bride are made from the righteous acts of the saints, made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
First, the Jews were invited to attend. They rejected God’s offer; and in the words of Jesus, their house was left to them “desolate (Matthew 23:38). God then turned to the sick, the handicapped, and the poor, and extended an invitation for them to come and attend; and they obeyed. The Father was told that there was still room for more, so He invited the whole world; and some of these heeded the invitation. Many of those invited had many reasons for why they could not come. God accepted none of their excuses. By their inaction to receive the Son, they were excluded from the great banquet held in His honor and from all the blessings prepared by God for all who love Him and are obedient to His invitation.
This is truly a wonderful parable because it speaks of God inviting everyone who is willing to come. You may think yourself unworthy because of the things you have done in your life. Even so, you may come, if you are willing. Whether you wander homeless on the highways and live under the hedges, you are loved; and you can come and find forgiveness and be saved. There is room in God’s house for everyone who will come through His Son, and no one will be refused who comes in Jesus’ name.
16. The Ten Virgins
Matthew 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
The key to the parable of Ten Virgins is: responsibility. Five are described as wise and five are foolish. All ten are waiting for the arrival of the Bridegroom, though they do not know exactly when He will appear. Five have come prepared for His appearance, and five are not ready. It should be noted here that the saved are designated as the bride, not bridesmaids. These ten virgins are bridesmaids waiting for the arrival of the Bridegroom so that they may enter into the wedding ceremony, they are not the Bride.
The fact that Jesus placed this parable strategically in Matthew Chapter 25, where He describes events that will occur during the seven-year Tribulation, is significant. These ten virgins may be a description of those who are saved out of the Great Tribulation, and watch for the return of Jesus—the Bridegroom—at the end of the seven years. When Jesus returns, He will be bringing with Him His Bride who has been with Him in heaven for the past seven years.
Jesus has called all those who genuinely know Him, to be ready for His return. He has given us resources and opportunities to keep us busy until He comes, but nothing should prevent us from watching for Him above all other things in our life.
There are many who watch and are ready for Jesus to arrive because He is the essential part of their life. Others know who the Lord is, but they do not know Him personally by experience. They have a partial intellectual knowledge of Jesus, but they do not posses a heartfelt commitment to Him as the Lord and Savior of their life. If we follow the pattern that Jesus has laid out here, about half of all those who profess to know Jesus are actually saved. At the end of the parable, the five who were not ready were told by the Lord, I do not know you. The final words of the parable of the ten virgins are: “‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Because five of the virgins were not watching, they were not ready. The reason that they were not ready is that they never came into a real personal relationship with Jesus.
The five who were ready had with them all that they needed (the oil) to wait for their Lord’s return. Many see the oil as being the Holy Spirit. It is the power of the Holy Spirit living in the life of the believers that validates whether or not they belong to Jesus and are saved. The five who are not ready went out to buy what they need. This is a key, because Salvation and a relationship with Jesus cannot be purchased or earned. It is given to us as a free gift when we believe what God said about Jesus and His sacrifice. The first had all they needed; the second could not get what they needed because they were seeking to gain it by their works.
This parable is a sobering and stunning illustration about the importance of our responsibility to make sure our commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior is true and valid. We can measure the genuineness of our commitment to Jesus by how we are currently living our life:
- If we are constantly thinking about Jesus and His return.
- If sin is an accidental part of our life versus the purpose of our life.
- If the Bible is our constant companion and not the television.
- If fellowship with other believers is our delight and not the friendship of those who do not know the Lord.
- If Love is the foundation of our heart, and we feel compassion and empathy for those who are not saved.
- If our finances are guided and directed by the Lord.
- If prayer is a consistent and constant part of our life.
If these things are not present, then it is certain that we have not yet come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by being Born Again of the Spirit of God. It is easy to imitate other Christians by going to church and putting a bumper sticker for Jesus on our car. It is entirely another thing altogether to practice the seven principles above, which come as a result of a changed heart who longs for God.
An important part of this parable is that Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 are clearly speaking of the Tribulation (first 3 ½ years) and the Great Tribulation (the last 3 ½ years).
In this context, Jesus may be speaking principally to those who are saved during this seven-year period of time. If this is the case, then a full commitment of the believer during this period of Tribulation is most crucial. It would be difficult to make the case that this exhortation by Jesus in this parable is only for those during the seven-year tribulation, since its application to all those who claim to believe in Jesus is a certainty.
Our goal is not only to know about Jesus, but to know Him personally by an experience that has changed us on the inside. When we repent of our sins and come to Jesus humbly to receive Him as our Savior, we receive the assurance that we are His and are ready for heaven. If we claim to know Jesus but there has been no change in our life since we first professed Jesus, it is certain that we remain unsaved. Salvation will transform every part of our life. From the words that we speak to the people we associate with, nothing will remain the same.
17. The Talents
Matthew 25:14-30 For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”
The parable of the Talents is a continuing and equivalent illustration made by The Parable of the Ten Virgins. The theme is similar: Responsibility and accountability in using what the Lord has given us to make Him known and bring Him glory.
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the proof that these people have a sincere relationship with the Lord is seen in their anticipation of His return. In the Parable of the Talents, the genuineness of their commitment to Jesus is measured by how they use the talents and resources that the Lord has given to them.
Each one of us who claim to know Jesus have been given a certain amount of resources by Him. What we do with those resources is a clear indication of where our hearts are at, and whether or not we are genuinely saved. In doing counseling, I sometimes ask those whom I am giving Biblical advice, to bring their checkbooks to the session. Not so that they can write me a check but so that I can show them where the focus of their life is really at. As we look through the list of expenses described in the register of the checkbook, we can see where all our money is spent. If all of our financial resources goes towards fun, pleasure, and material possessions, it is certain that our priorities are incorrect.
Many a Sunday, I watch the tithe and offering basket that is passed from person to person in some of the churches that I visit. Often, only a dollar or two is placed into the offering by several of the people who are in attendance. I am sure that many of us who give so little to further Jesus’ kingdom will give hundreds of dollars in the coming weeks for things that have absolutely no eternal value whatsoever.
In the parable of the Talents, the one who was given five talents magnified those resources for the master and brought him a good return. This is exemplified by the person who has a few financial and material resources. These tangible assets are used in a way that allows others an opportunity to know Jesus and be saved. Notice that this person’s extent of responsibility during the coming 1,000 year reign of Jesus is measured by his faithfulness, in using whatever resources he has, to insure that other people have an opportunity to know Jesus and receive Him as their Savior. If we are faithful in the little things of this life, then the Lord will give us greater responsibility during the time He rules the earth for one thousand years.
The criteria for a job viewed as well done by Jesus is not the size of the ministry but the faithfulness of the person in continuing to serve the Lord all the days of their life. Whether someone has a large result or small, both are told: Well done, good and faithful servant. This means that the reward for a large ministry and a small ministry are equal, while the smaller ministries require much less work, and encounter far less problems. This may cause us to consider that the Lord has spared most of us the trouble and difficulties of a much greater ministry. On the day that Jesus returns for us and takes us all back to heaven to bestow upon us the rewards He promised us for service to Him, we will all receive the same reward: Eternal Life.
As with the second group of five virgins in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the last servant here in the Parable of the Talents who has only one Talent does not seem to really know who Jesus truly is. He perceives the Lord as being a hard man, when in reality, the Lord is very gracious and kind to all. Because he had no real personal relationship with the Lord, he misunderstood who He is. It is this lack of a personal relationship with Jesus that causes many people to misunderstand who He truly is.
The evidence of this missing relationship is seen in the fact that he did not invest himself and his resources in matters that would further the kingdom of God. Like the five foolish virgins, the man with just one talent is not saved. They were all self-deceived, believing that they were secure, when in fact the act of salvation had never taken place. As a result, they were cast out of the Lord’s presence, not having obtained eternal life.
18. The Good Samaritan
Luke 10:29-37 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Continuing in the development of this theme of a genuinely changed life as a result of salvation occurring, the parable of The Good Samaritan shows us that the one who is truly saved will have evidence of their salvation.
After the capture of certain citizens of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar that resulted in their captivity in Babylon for 70 years, many of these captives chose to remain in Babylon after they were released to go back home to Judah. Some intermarried with the Babylonians, giving birth to children who were considered only half Jew. These children of the captives returned later to Judah and formed a community referred to as The Samaritans who were hated and despised by those who saw themselves as the true Jews of Israel.
If a true Jew would approach a Samaritan on the street, they would cross to the other side just to avoid coming into contact with a Samaritan. In this parable described by Jesus, a man is beaten, robbed, and left for dead by thieves. A Samaritan happened to pass by and observes this beaten man laying on the road. He stops and bandages his wounds, then carries him to a local hotel where he pays for a night’s stay, remaining with the injured man throughout the night, caring for him. On the following morning, the Samaritan pays the innkeeper in advance for any further needs this man may have in recuperating from his injuries. He also promised to return to pay for any additional charges that might be incurred by the innkeeper while he allows this injured man to remain with him and fully recover.
Jesus finishes this parable by stating that we should all do likewise. Those who have come into a true relationship with Jesus should be constantly exhibiting good works of righteousness in their life. If we do not feel a sense of compassion for the less fortunate, the injured, the outcast, homeless, and despised, then it is not possible that we truly know Jesus, no matter what we have professed. A person who has genuinely been saved will be working to make Jesus known and will have, as the object of his heart, a desire to show mercy to all those who need it.
1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
19. The Rich Fool
Luke 12:16-21 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
This parable speaks of the perils of placing your hopes and affections in things that are passing away. This is sadly a common focus for most of the people of the world—gathering things, buying bigger things, and worrying about loosing things. All the while—forgetting that there is an appointed time for each one of us in which we will exit this world and pass into eternity without taking anything with us. Instead, we should be thinking past this transient life to the eternal life that awaits us. Finding our satisfaction and joy in the Lord, storing up in our heart the great hope of seeing Jesus face to face and dwelling in His presence forever. These are the most valuable treasures that all of us should set our hearts upon.
20. The Barren Fig Tree
Luke 13:6-9 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”
This parable appears to come from Isaiah Chapter 5, where the Lord describes Israel as His vineyard.
Isaiah 5:1-7 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes? And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.” For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.
The Lord expects fruit from His people. He desires righteousness and truth in the lives of those who claim to be His children. When the Lord looked for these things in His vineyard—Israel, He found none. He also is looking for fruit in our lives, and He will accept nothing less. Are we bearing fruit? Are we growing in good deeds and putting away the sins that so easily beset us? Is the constant expectation of our heart the arrival of Jesus? Is the ever present earnest desire of our life to know Jesus and be with Him?
We should be working every day to further Jesus’ kingdom. He is coming soon, and with Him—judgment. The time is far spent, and we do not have many more days in which we can make Jesus known by whatever means possible.
Jesus gave us this parable to encourage us to be a fruitful people. When He arrives, He will reward us according to whether or not we took His words seriously. The rulership and authority that He will give to us will be based completely on our faithfulness to what He has called us to, right now. We may see our life as small and insignificant; but in reality, every day you and I have opportunities to do something for Jesus and produce fruit for Him. If we are a student, a mother or father, have a career or are still looking for one, we should do everything as if we are doing it for the Lord. For it is Jesus whom we serve, and from Him will come our reward.
21. The Wedding Feast
Luke 14:7-11 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The lessons that are given in all of the parables that Jesus taught are the opposite of normal human behavior. Every person who has been born on this planet is selfish and self-centered. All of us secretly want the best seat to be noticed above other people, and we want our own personal needs taken care of first, before others.
For the person who is endeavoring to follow Jesus, we should seek out the lowliest place. Give others preference above ourselves, and think of the needs of other people before our own needs.
22. The Lost Coin
Luke 15:8-10 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Many women would wear their dowry in their headdress as a public display. It appears that these ten coins were all the financial resources that this woman had. Many of the rooms in these small houses were poorly lit, with only a single small window to allow the light from the sun to radiate inside. To find the lost coin, this woman would need to light a lamp. Losing this one coin was the loss of ten percent of her life’s savings. So, in finding the lost coin, she would call her friends who lived nearby to rejoice with her over finding that which was lost.
The parable of the lost coin is like the parable of the lost sheep, which speaks of the Messiah’s love for all of His sheep—even if one should stray—He will go out and find the lost and bring them home. We are seen by our Lord as His treasure in which He has searched for and found. The joy that is seen in heaven over His finding us and redeeming our lives back to God is seen here:
Luke 15:7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
If we make it our life’s goal to declare Jesus to as many people as we can, then at the end of our life, there will be some, possibly many, who will have received Jesus and be saved. When you are standing before the Lord in heaven someday, you very well may see all these people standing before Jesus. They will be there with the Lord because you took your life seriously and did what Jesus said. There will be great joy for you and the ones whom you told, and your joy will never end.
23. The Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-32 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
The theme of the lost continues. First, Jesus spoke of 100 sheep, then 10 coins, now 2 sons. All these parables deal with the heart of God towards people. He earnestly desires that we are all redeemed and have the opportunity to partake of the infinite blessings He has prepared for us.
The issues contrasted in this parable are:
- A Father who loves His son.
- A foolish son who makes bad choices.
- A life that is wrecked because of those choices.
- Humility by the difficulty of trials.
- A desire to change.
- A return to the Father.
- A Father’s welcome and the restoration of His son.
The major issue addressed in this parable is Repentance.
There are two Greek words that are made use of in the New Testament to describe repentance. First, the verb Metamelomai, which is used to describe a change in the mind that would produce regret or remorse for the sin committed. Although the mind has been changed, the heart remains the same; and therefore, there would be no change in the lifestyle of the individual. This is seen in the repentance of Judas Iscariot who was remorseful, but took no further action to change his behavior.
The second Greek word used to describe repentance is Metanoeo, to change your mind and the direction of your actions after coming into a knowledge of your sin.
Only when our actions are changed, along with a changed mind, can the Lord grant us the forgiveness of our sins. The son described in this parable of Jesus had true repentance that led him to change the behavior of his life. Because of his true repentance, the father ran to the son and welcomed him back home.
Upon the son’s restoration, the father places his ring on his son’s finger as a symbol of authority. The son is given the robe of his father, significant of the fact that his righteousness now comes from his father. A person who is Born Again by the Spirit of God is said to have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to, or given to them, as described by Isaiah 61:10.
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
This righteousness that comes from the Lord is like a robe that covers those who come to Jesus for salvation. This covering from the Lord, which is His righteousness, is described in the Book of Revelation Chapter 3:5 as a white garment worn by the saved.
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Upon the return of this son, the father places shoes on his shoeless son. Slaves did not own shoes, but a son is free; therefore, he wears the sandals of his father. This is now a time for celebration and feasting, for the formerly lost slave is now home—no longer a slave of sin—he is now a son.
- Filthy garments removed, robes of righteousness given.
- Authority and honor given to the son by the father’s ring.
- Shoeless feet covered with the sandals of his father.
The older son is bitter at the treatment his father has shown to his wayward brother. This older brother is a picture of Israel who has not yet come into a personal relationship with God through the Messiah, but attributes sonship to physical birth rather than by the new birth of the Gospel. This older son (Israel) desires that his many years of service to his father would be the basis for his acceptance by the father. This is significant of the fact that the Jew today base their righteousness before God on their long-standing status as “chosen” rather than what the gospel requires: a new birth and salvation by grace through faith.
Though the older son is bitter and the younger son has wasted his life thus far on reprobate living, the character of the loving father rises above all their sins. In this amazing love that this father shows to both his sons, we can understand by this parable that Jesus taught, how much our heavenly Father loves each one of us and so earnestly desires that we are reconciled to Him.
24. The Dishonest Manager
Luke 16:1-9 He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”
If you read the various commentaries written by very astute and scholarly men on this parable, you will see that they are perplexed and confused by the language of the text. If we attribute this parable to the saved as the stewards of Jesus who are given certain positions of responsibility while here on the earth, a correct understanding becomes difficult when we arrive at, So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly (good judgement).
First, it should be understood that in this parable, Jesus is not condoning the behavior of the unjust servant. He is simply acknowledging that like those in the world, this steward is cunning and intelligent in business. Notice the contrast in words, for the sons of this world are more shrewd… than the sons of light. By this statement, we should understand that the steward who is the topic of this Parable, is a “son of this world.”
For this reason, it is not likely that this unjust steward is one who has been Born Again. This steward may perhaps be pretending to be a son of light; but by his unjust actions, his true nature is revealed. It is certain that Jesus would encourage us, who are the sons of light, to be wise in all our business dealings and the management of our resources and finances. We should be as wise as the unjust servants, but as honest and pure as a true son or daughter of the Most High God.
25. The Rich Man and Lazarus
Luke 16:19-31 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”
This parable stands alone as the proof text for the doctrine of heaven contrasted with hell. Here, we have two men who lived their lives on the earth. One is rich with everything he could possibly desire materially, yet he gave no concern for eternal matters. The second—a very poor man who barely survived here on earth and ultimately died as a result of his lack of resources. Though he was poor in material wealth, this man was rich in his love for the Lord and trust in His salvation.
We should remember that it is Jesus who is speaking this parable. It is clear that His intent is to illustrate for us exactly what happens after death.
If we ignore God, we will be cast into hell for eternity. If we live our life for the Lord, we will live in unimaginable joy for eternity. Both the punishment for ignoring and the reward for acknowledgment are equal—they will last forever.
In hell, the rich man was no longer rich; he was destitute and in agony. He was tormented in the flames of hell, and he regretted his decision to reject the Lord in his life. It is very easy to ignore God while living a life of wealth and ease. It will be an entirely different matter altogether when our last breath is drawn, and we find ourselves in eternity. This rich man wanted to change his decision once he found himself in hell, but it was too late. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his family of hell, but this was also not possible. Jesus is the person that He described as coming back from hell to testify to the world that it is real; yet the world has ignored Him and failed to heed His warning.
I find it odd that intelligent men and women who have made their fortunes by being shrewd, as in the preceding Parable of the Dishonest Manager, are at the end of their lives found to be so careless. To plan for a future on the earth but give no thought to eternity and what will happen after life ends is the epitome of foolishness.
Jesus spoke more on the realities of hell and those who ignore Him than He did on the certainty of heaven for those who receive Him. Jesus describes the tormented soul who is alive, conscious in hell, and in full possession of their feelings and emotions. This once rich man felt pain, even torment, in the burning fire. He also felt a deep sense of regret for being so foolish. If a person finds himself in hell, he will have no one else to blame but himself. This stunning parable taught by Jesus is warning enough for the consequences of not receiving the pardon God offers us, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
26. The Persistent Widow
Luke 18:1-8 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”
The topic of this parable is persistence in prayer. The central practice missing in the lives of many Christians today is prayer that perseveres. Here, Jesus defines answered prayer by the steadfastness of those who ask. A comparison is made between an earthly judge, who may be slightly lazy in answering the request of a poor widow, with our heavenly Father who delights in helping us when we ask of Him.
Why does the Lord desire that we ask Him repeatedly? Why does He answer the persistent prayer of those who persevere rather than the one-time casual prayer?
The answers to these questions are defined by the faith that is required in continually asking, compared to a one-time prayer. When someone asks repeatedly, it signifies that he believes the object of his request is able to answer and meet the needs of his petition. Conversely, a person who asks only once, most often is not sure if the Lord cares enough or is able to answer.
We might argue that there is a third type of petitioner who asks only once because they are sure that the Lord will answer and that He genuinely wants to help. His or her petition is short and sweet and right to the point, with a sure assumption that the Lord will help.
While it is true that there are moments when a short prayer is all that we have time for; most of the time, we have the opportunity to diligently seek the Lord in prayer over a longer period of time. This seems to be the correct application of this parable.
The desire of the Lord for our prayers as revealed in this parable is that we persist in our requests. Perhaps, it is the pleasure that He feels when we often visit Him with our petitions or the fact that we make ourselves completely dependent on Him for our every need.
27. The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
A primary requirement for salvation is humility. No one who believes that they are basically a good person can find the humility necessary to be saved. Unless we believe sincerely that there is no good thing in us and that our sins have completely separated us from God, He can do nothing to cleanse us and grant eternal life.
The pride of the Pharisee is seen in his words. He is glad that he is not like other men, when in fact—he is exactly like all other men who are not saved. He cites his own works as evidence for his righteousness, to his own ruin. No work that any human being does for God, or for others, is merit enough for eternal life.
The tax collector, on the other hand, has come to a deep sense of his own destitution. Some internal conflict or external force has been laid upon him that have caused a good result. He is keenly aware that he desperately needs a Savior. All he can muster is the heartfelt words: God be merciful to me a sinner. It is not the words, whether they are many or few, that allow us to experience salvation. It is the broken heart and humble attitude behind those words which brings us to a private room where God will hear us and grant the forgiveness of our sins.
28. The Minas
Luke 19:11-27 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ ”
This final parable of Jesus was spoken as He and the disciples drew near Jerusalem. The Lord is about to make His public announcement at Jerusalem that He is the Messiah. He has been describing the events that will take place prior to His return to the earth at the end of the Tribulation period. With these events in mind, Luke writes: Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
In the context of the return of Jesus and those who will remain here on earth while He is gone, He begins to describe what His servants should be doing until He comes again.
A mina is equal to about three or four months wages. It is interesting that the amount of the mina and the time that it will last may be a hint for us in regards to the Rapture. Jesus fulfilled the first four feasts of Israel, called the feasts of the Lord, by becoming the Passover Lamb on Passover, remaining in the tomb for three days during Unleavened Bread, rising from the dead on the feast of First Fruits, and sending the Holy Spirit to birth the church on the feast of Pentecost. Between Pentecost and the next feast called Trumpets, there is a three-month Harvest Period. Jesus leaves these servants enough resources to last them through the three months of harvest before He returns for His church during the feast of Trumpets. In the chapters, The Seven Feasts of Israel and The Rapture of the Church, I discuss this subject in greater detail.
Much like the Parable of The Talents, from Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of The Minas deals with stewardship while here on earth, with the possibility of rewards given later in heaven. This is a subject that most Christians know very little about. The principle and promise of rewards is for the believers who labors during their life for the Lord, after their salvation has taken place.
- In the Parable of the Talents, the man traveling to a far country is Jesus, who gave five talents to one person, two talents to another, and one talent to a third.
- In the Parable of the Minas, a nobleman called ten servants together and gave each of them 10 Minas.
An interesting difference between the Minas and the Talents is seen by the response of those who receive 10 minas. They send a delegation to tell the master: We will not have this man to reign over us. When Jesus was presented to the people of Israel by Pilate, they rejected Him and asked Pilate to put Him to death.
Matthew 27:21-25 The governor answered and said to them (the people assembled), “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” 24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” 25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
With the rejection of Jesus by the people of Israel, it appears that this may have been the object of His description in the Parable of the Minas. Jesus was sent first to the nation of Israel in fulfillment of the many prophecies of the Old Testament (see Prophecy 121). It was the plan of God that Israel would be the nation from where the whole world would hear about the Messiah and have the opportunity to be saved. When they rejected Jesus as their Messiah, the nation was left to them desolate. Jesus pronounced judgement on the whole land, and the words of His prophecies regarding their desolation was fulfilled just 38 years later (see The Predictions of Jesus .
In this parable of the Minas, Jesus reveals that it is His plan to deliver to His servant, the responsibility of making the Messiah known to the people of Israel.
“So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ ”
Because Israel rejected Jesus as her Messiah, the responsibility of making Him known was passed to the Gentiles, who would tell the whole world about God’s salvation. When Jesus returns for His church and removes us from the earth at the Rapture—upon our arrival in heaven, the Lord will judge our works as His servants so that He might grant us rewards for the service we have given to Him while on the earth. This is not a judgement for our sins, as this penalty has already taken place when Jesus died for us at the cross.
See the chapter in this book: Principles of Rewards for a detailed study on the types of works the Lord will reward.
The timing and topic of this subject is clear by the words Jesus used in describing this parable:
“And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ ”
The remainder of this parable is directed at the time when he returns, having received the kingdom.
Upon the appearance of Jesus for His church at the Rapture, He will reward all of His servants who have served Him while He has been gone.
Based on whether or not we have lived our lives for the Lord after we were saved—in telling others about Jesus and increasing His kingdom, we will receive a reward. Jesus said that having received the kingdom, He brought these servants before Him to give an account of what they had done while He was gone.
Jesus received the kingdom upon His death and resurrection. He describes this kingdom just before He goes to the cross to die for us and then be raised on the third day:
Luke 22:28-30 But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Lord will establish His kingdom when He returns to the earth the second time with His church, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Based on the faithful service that each one of us has given to the Lord before He returns, He will judge our works for Him and grant rulership to us over a certain number of cities during His one thousand-year reign on the earth:
“Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.”
The extent of this rule will depend on what these servants did with the resources which the Lord gave to them during His absence. The subject of this final parable is the time when all of us are working for the Kingdom of the Messiah to make Him known to the world. When Jesus returns, those who love the Lord, will have incredible work to do on the earth during His reign. The people who survive the seven-year Tribulation and are permitted to enter the thousand-year reign of the Messiah will come to us as co-rulers with the Lord. We will be established by Him in various places all over the earth. Our authority and scope of rulership during that time will be based on the faithfulness to which we served the Lord now, in this time, before He comes for us.
 Paraphrased from Robert Boyd Munger, “What Jesus Says, The Master Teacher and Life’s Problems”, Chapter 5, “What Jesus says about Suffering and Evil”, Page 69, 1955 by Fleming H. Revell, Company, Westwood, New York