Tag: gospel of matthew

Summary: The Parable of the Sower (or Parable of the Soils) is simple enough, as a story about planting, growth, and yield goes. But the way the Gospels present it to us quickly reveals itself to be disturbing. Those who interpret the parable without consulting Matthew 13:10-17, the verses in which Jesus implies that his parables keep the truth hidden from many, miss the point. This is a parable that underscores the difficulty of the good news taking root in the world. It is a parable that asks us to consider the rest of the Gospel story if we are going to be able to consider difficult and unnerving questions about the goodness of God and the problem of resistant hearts. Fortunately, most preachers are well equipped and situated to venture into difficult places.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus, at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew, assures his followers that he will be with them always, he does not promise that he will be always offering them comfort or always present “for” them or endorsing their agendas. We might read it, instead, as another of his statements about his solidarity with people, especially the oppressed and ignored. Trinitarian theology stems from a related conviction: in various ways, God shows up and becomes manifest in our experiences and our encounters with others. We encounter the Trinitarian God not through transcendental escapism but in, among, and always for the sake of human bodies. That is a vital truth for churches that need to remember and then repent of their role in overt and covert systemic racism. Together we can discover Jesus dwelling among our neighbors and affirming life–their lives.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 28:16-20 for Trinity Sunday. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus’ declarations to the ragtag collection of people who gather for the Sermon on the Mount are direct and simple: “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” Salt and light always make their presence known. They always have effects. This is reassuring news to preachers who are regularly told that they are doing everything wrong or failing to tickle the ears of a public that craves simplicity, security, and entertainment. Salt preserves and flavors. Light makes things visible and warm. That always happens.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 5:13-20. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The story Matthew tells about Herod the Great, the king who slaughters children in an attempt to rid the world of the newborn Messiah, offers preachers a valuable opportunity to explore evil. The arrival of Jesus Christ should lead us to more than joy and adoration; it should also make us reflect on the ways in which we resist God’s presence and intentions. Like Herod, we are often more comfortable with the way things are. The arrival of Jesus is inconvenient. It will throw things into disarray. We may be asked to surrender our illusions of security and privilege. The values that Herod instills in us are the opposite of the values that we discover in the reign of God.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 2:13-23. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: For those who preach, the ministry of John the Baptist, which the Gospels describe so minimally, raises important questions. Was John a lone voice, or did he have others he trusted who could help him work through his own issues and questions? How did John’s journey on the road of repentance figure in the sermons he preached? Preachers understand that preaching is never a one-way enterprise, from a confident speaker to a needy audience. We are often the audiences of our own sermons, and sometimes our best preaching is the preaching that we ourselves need to hear. Don’t view John as a totally self-assured individual; perhaps he was as vulnerable as we are. Repentance, after all, is not about feeling sorry or resolving to do better. It is a lifelong experience of trying to view the world and God’s place in it through from a different perspective. No one can do that entirely alone.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 3:1-12. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Peter sees Jesus walking on the water and tries to do the same himself, it is fear that makes him begin to sink. Yes, Jesus saves him, but before rushing to the story’s happy conclusion it is worthwhile to dwell on fear. Fear can be paralyzing; insecurity makes people shun risks. The life of faith is never a worry-free existence. Getting out of the boat means getting to the places where Jesus is. And, unlike Peter, we rarely find ourselves doing that alone.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 14:22-33. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus feeds 5000-plus hungry people in the wilderness, he feeds them until they are full. He gives them more than a taste and more than just promises. The scene offers a reminder that the good news cannot be reduced to meager foretastes of a feast to come. The abundance of food and the efforts of Jesus’ disciples indicate that preachers and indeed all Christians are summoned to feed the hungry and reaffirm the dignity of all—not later but now.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 14:13-21. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Even the briefest parables tell tales of massive upheaval. Jesus’ parables of the hidden leaven and the mustard seeds describe small acts of infiltration that have tremendous consequences. His parables of the treasure in a field and the pearl of great price are about the overturning of value systems and entirely reordered lives. The kingdom of heaven, it appears, involves more than most of us might have expected. It will get into everything.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus’ parable of the weeds and wheat resounds with a number of concerns that the Gospel according to Matthew voices. It expresses worry about the damage that imposters might cause, but there is more worry here about what harm will come to “the children of the kingdom” if one actively tries to weed out those imposters. The challenge is to remain engaged in ministry that serves the wider world and opposes injustice while also leaving judgment up to God.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is one of several parables in Matthew’s Gospel that describe the Christian life as actively anticipating God’s promise to bring God’s intentions to fullness. This anticipation involves a readiness that manifests itself in perseverance, obedience, and compassion. It leads Christians to action on behalf of those who suffer, especially those who suffer exclusion.

Read the full article, which is part of the ON Scripture–The Bible project, on The Huffington Post, Day1, and Patheos.

Bible commentary: general audience ON Scripture--The Bible