Parables of Jesus

Most of us know the Sermon on the Mount. The foundational sermon Jesus gives as he launches his public career. It’s a masterful invitation into the life of God. Most of us are less familiar with the Sermon by the Sea. An enigmatic sermon Jesus gives later in life as he is preparing to head toward the cross.

If the sermon on the mount presents us with the common sense life of God and the practical steps we can take to experience it, the sermon by the sea presents us with the strange and paradoxical imagination of the upside down kingdom. A kingdom where Jesus’ death is his crowning glory, and to give away everything becomes the means to receiving what we have always truly, deeply wanted. As we prepare ourselves for Easter, we explore the sermon of Jesus that perhaps most directly pointed to the surprise of Holy Week.


The One About Seeds and Soil - Matthew 13:1-9 - Jeremy Duncan

We started this first week with the parable of the sower and the seeds. This story is about a successful farmer with lots of land to cover, who’s got more seed than he could possibly exhaust - and so he just goes crazy with it.  

Discussion Notes - Part 1 (On Seeds and Soil)

The One About Weeds and Wheat - Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 - Jeremy Duncan

Jesus tells us that his kingdom includes weeds and wheat, and he’s not surprised. In fact, he’s not alarmed and not only that he actually goes out of his way to hire workers to make sure that everything in his field is cared for and tended to and given every opportunity to grow into something beautiful. 

Discussion Notes - Part 2 (On Weeds and Wheat) 

The One About Mustard Seeds and Yeast - Matthew 13:31-33 - Jeremy Duncan

In two short verses Jesus has told us that the true kingdom starts so small you can barely notice it, and it grows into something you may barely even recognize because it shows up in places you didn’t expect.

Discussion Notes - Part 3 (On Mustard Seeds and Yeast)

The One About treasure and Pearls - Matthew 13:44-46 - Jeremy Duncan

When we dig a little deeper into these twin parables, we notice that these two tales aren't the same story at all. In fact, they’re the opposite story.

Discussion Notes - Part 4 (On Treasure and Pearls)

The One About Fish and Nets - Matthew 13:47-52 - Jeremy Duncan

This week we concluded with the parable of the net. This is a parable that starts with kingdom and ends with judgement and so we need to wrestle with that. 

Discussion Notes - Part 5 (On Fish and Nets)

Bonus Content

If tithing isn't part of following Jesus, where does generosity fit into the faith equation? On Sunday I threw out a quick statement about our relationship to money while I was talking about Jesus' words in Matthew 13.
I have been loving our current series in the parables but one of the questions I am often asked is how do you read these stories well? How do you notice the subtleties that Jesus embedded in the story?