The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Book Reflection // January 1, 2023 // View Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 9 // Luke 18:9-14

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is among the most well-known of all the parables of Jesus, along with the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. On the surface, this parable leads us to think that it is essentially about prayer. It is true that the focus of the story is on the contrasting prayers that are offered. Yet, what is being pointed out through these prayers is the pathway to salvation and who walks away justified. Justification is the essential point of this parable as Jesus is teaching us about escaping the wrath of God and being reconciled to God.

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The Narrow Door of Salvation

Book Reflection // December 31, 2022 // View Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 8 // Luke 13:22-30

The parable of Jesus that we are considering in this chapter of Boice’s book may be less of a parable and more similar to an expanded illustration. This parable of the narrow door of salvation is in response to a question from someone who was apparently in the crowd during one of the many teaching stops that Jesus made in the various towns and villages along his journey to Jerusalem. The question is simple enough really, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” The questioner was likely interested in the theological speculation of the answer. Maybe even wondering where he stood at the moment. Trying to decide if he really needed to worry about this gospel good news that Jesus was preaching. If everyone is going to heaven, then why in the world would someone need to worry about this at all? Jesus being Jesus… He answers the question put before him without giving the answer in the expected format. Surely the questioner was just looking for a simple yes or no, a quick answer to then move on. The answer Jesus gives redirects the questioner, and ourselves, to the heart of the question. The heart of the question being our very own heart. We need not worry about the numbers of people that may or may not be in heaven. We should rather focus on our own heart and our entry into His heavenly kingdom. In this parable, Jesus will refocus our attention not on the numbers who will ultimately be saved but on three main issues: there is only one narrow door, that door is now open but will close soon enough, and our duty is to enter.

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Workers in the Vineyard

Book Reflection // October 15, 2022 // View Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 6 // Mathew 20:1-16

This parable is the second of five parables that focus on salvation and is bracketed by a familiar phrase that Jesus liked to use, although he used multiple variations of this phrase. The two phrases are “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30) and “The last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16). Since the parable of the Workers in the vineyard falls between these two similar statements, it must be an illustration of this key concept and principle.  This parable is easily understood and seems simple enough on the surface, but difficulties arise when we look at the dealing of the businessman with his hired workers. There are three lessons we will look at as we consider this parable: God is no man’s debtor, God cares for people more than for things, and many but not all.

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A Lost Sheep, A Lost Coin, A Lost Son

Book Reflection // September 3, 2022 // View Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 5 // Luke 15:1-32

Starting with the chapter we are in today, we are moving into a section of parables that Boice collectively refers to as the Parables of Salvation. This section of parables will focus on the different aspects and features of salvation that Jesus relays to us through these particular parables. This passage from Luke may be the most well-known set of three parables that deal with salvation as Jesus talks about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Although these three parables can be studied and considered on their own, they are meant to be taken together to get a more complete picture of the message Jesus is stating. There are four points to consider when looking at these parables together: the value of the lost object, the attitude of the owner/father, the nature of the recovery, and the problem with the older son.

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God’s Kingdom Consummated

Book Reflection // August 27, 2022 // View Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 4 // Matthew 13:47-52

These parables that we have been looking at for the past few weeks have not only the common theme of describing the kingdom of God, but they also share repetitive points. Jesus uses repetition in a lot of his teaching and it is no different in this set of parables found in Matthew 13. There are very few points mentioned in any of the previous parables that are not also mentioned in one of the others. The parable before us today is focused on the new imagery of fishing but is making the same points as that of the wheat and tares growing together.

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People of the Kingdom

Book Reflection // August 20, 2022 // View the Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 3 // Matthew 13:44-46

The parables put before us now are examples of the doctrines of election and irresistible grace. There is often a misunderstanding that comes along with these two doctrines. One is that God will drag the reluctant sinner against his wishes into heaven and the second being that God will deny salvation to someone who truly seeks him. These two parables are set against both of these mischaracterizations as they demonstrate that the first and necessary step in salvation is a new heart or regeneration by God alone. Only a sinner that has been given a new heart will then have a new desire for Christ and seeing the immense value of Jesus, that person will lose everything to simply have Jesus.

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The Work of the Enemy

Book Reflection // August 13, 2022 // View the Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 2 // Matthew 13:24-43

Just like the previous parable that focused on the different types of soil that receive the gospel seed, Boice classifies this triplet of parables as dealing once again with the Kingdom of God. In this section Boice takes a bit of a different approach than what I have heard in the past and what I have seen in my small circle of Christian influence. Boice groups these three parables (weeds, mustard seed, and leaven) as speaking directly about the influence and work of evil in the Kingdom of God as it spreads throughout the world. These parables highlight the work of the enemy in our lives and the life of the church. Jesus tells us these parables to highlight the strategies and designs of our enemy to infiltrate, influence, and ultimately hinder the work of God in this world.

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The Seed and the Soil

Book Reflection // August 6, 2022 // View the Series

The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice

Chapter 1 // Matthew 13:1-23

In this book by Boice, he classifies this parable as one dealing with the Kingdom of God. In particular he marks this particular parable as unique in this category since it is dealing more so with the origin of the Kingdom. Meaning that this specific parable is focused more on the beginnings of the spreading of the grace and gospel of Christ throughout the world. The uniqueness of this parable is that Jesus uses the picture of seeds being scattered and planted in different types of soil to represent the different stages of readiness to receive the gospel message of hope and salvation – hard heart, shallow heart, strangled heart, and an open heart.

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