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two men walked into a temple

Sounds like the start of a corny joke, doesn’t it? But it’s not at all funny, this one. Luke 18 9-14. In his commentary Luke actually says that Jesus told this story to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on others. A Pharisee – character one, the one who was confident of his own righteousness doing …

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Lazarus and Eleazar

The story of the rich man (classically called “Dives”) and Lazarus has been the stuff of late night discussions and debates. Was it an account of real events and real people or a parable? Our rule of thumb is the statement in Matthew 13.34 that Jesus did not teach anything apart from by parables. The reason for parables seems to …

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wise as serpents

While many or most of Jesus’ stories take strange turns and fascinate the reader, this one takes the cake. It appears that the parables are not to be taken as primers for behaviour! They are often complex, tongue in cheek tales that take us past our normal thinking and categories. They bring together humour, realism, hyperbole, poignancy in a delightful …

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lost sons

Two sons were lost – one still at home and the other in a far off place. The less likely of the two found his way home. The older brother was bound by entitlement and pride and couldn’t find his way back to his father. The younger discovered the release of desperation and was free from the very cords that …

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lost things

Perhaps one of the most frustrating experiences in life – to lose something! The aggravation would seem to be proportional to the worth of the lost item. In chapter 15 Luke recounts Jesus’ 3 stories about lost items – a sheep, a coin, a boy. The occasion, once again, is an encounter with religious leaders who find fault with Jesus’ …

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count the cost

The more we follow Jesus around the more we understand the disciples’ confusion over his teaching and tactics. Success, it would seem, would be measured at least in part by people bringing more people and the movement growing in strength by number. But Jesus seems to stall the movement’s progress at many turns. Whether he awkwardly speaks out of turn …

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Everybody want to go to heaven

A current popular country song by Kenny Chesney says “Everybody wants to go to heaven, have a mansion high above the clouds, everybody want to go to heaven, but nobody want to go now!” As we wander along with the crowds listening to Jesus we begin to hear some recurring themes. We begin to “get” what he’s all about. It …

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wedding etiquette

In the midst of his kingdom teaching Jesus offers some wedding etiquette advice. In a day and culture where honour and shame were key dynamics he called his audience out on their behaviour around seats of honour. This was a familiar scenario even with his own disciples who were often bickering and posturing about what their ranks were among his …

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the pestering neighbour

As parents and grandparents many of us have all too often been the victims of methodical pestering. At some point in utero or after their launch into the cold harsh world of need our babies learn that fine skill. It goes something like: “mom can I have…?” And is followed by “no honey, not now.” But that is far from …

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on asking the right question

  On asking the right question: Jesus was both a masterful storyteller and “yarn spinner” (to use an Irish expression.) He was able to cleverly turn a conversation into a kingdom chat. Particularly in the matter of Q & A he would often rephrase or restate or flat out challenge the question. A great example of this is the story, …