“The gospel will not be relegated to insignificance. If it were only a human work, it could perhaps be dispensed with. But it is something more than a human work. It is the seed of God’s creative, redeeming, and restoring presence. Its beginnings, to be sure, are inauspicious, but slowly and inescapably it grows and intrudes in our lives. Like a bush or tree, it becomes something we can no longer ignore, despite the many other things in life that at first seem more important. The transformative power of the gospel produces the qualities of love and joy, peace and patience, goodness and kindness, that we most long for, but that most elude us.”

 — James Edwards


On Parables

“An allegory can be understood from the ‘outside,’ 
but parables can be understood only from within, 
by allowing oneself to be taken into the story and hearing 
who God is 
and what humans may become. 
Parables are like stained glass windows in a cathedral, 
dull and lifeless from the outside 
but brilliant and radiant from within.” 

— James Edwards


“My experience is that people think that just opening the Bible and putting themselves in front of it means that the Holy Spirit will just drop understanding on them to reward them for having given time to it. And what Jesus is actually setting up here is an understanding of how we ENCOUNTER TRUTH through words. It’s not always immediately evident; that understanding grows over time. You have to know, the disciples remembered these parables later, and understood them at a different level than they did in the moment. So we should expect that when we come to the Bible, we should not put it in a category of discipleship tools that will be intuitive or easy. We should understand that like all areas of following Christ, this, too, will require effort, and patience, and careful thought.” — Jen Wilkin, "What You Talking About, Jesus?"/podcast on parables
What are parables and how should we read them? Listen to this podcast featuring Jen Wilkin at the Village Church. Thanks for the tip, Jenny Dowling Smith!


Forsaking all for the Bridegroom

“The questions posed by the image of the wedding feast and the two [short] parables is not whether disciples will, like sewing a new patch on an old garment or refilling an old container, make room for Jesus in their already full agendas and lives. The question is whether they will forsake business as usual and join the wedding celebration, whether they will become entirely new receptacles for the expanding fermentation of Jesus and the gospel in their lives.” — James Edwards


Members of a Kingdom Family

“The best commentary on these verses is actually the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. There Jesus tells about a young man who takes his entire half of the family inheritance and wastes it and himself in sin, but is accepted back into the family by his loving father. But the prodigal can only come back in and receive clothes, food, and capital out of the elder brother’s wealth, at his expense. In the story, the older brother hates it. But this is Jesus’ way to point out that he is the true elder brother. He willingly brings us into God’s family at his expense. He died for us. He was plundered for us. We sit at the Father’s table dressed in Jesus’ clothes, with His ring on our finger. All through him. We must celebrate and live out the fact that we are members of a kingdom family, and it is all at the expense of our big brother, Jesus Christ.” — Tim Keller


“Our Lord’s answer is simple, brilliant and devastating. Had the Pharisees grasped its significance and followed it through, their lives would have been completely revolutionized. Doctors do not visit those who are well, but those who are sick. Jesus was teaching these men important lessons:

He was rebuking their misdirected zeal. They were concerned for the glory of God and for moral purity, which was commendable. But God’s concern for His glory and for purity among men had led Him down through history to visit His sin-diseased people to heal them. If the Pharisees were really anxious to see men and women become holy, then their separation to God should have led them to a loving commitment to the people, to show them God’s way.

He was exposing their false holiness. If their so-called ‘holiness’ expressed itself only in criticism of sinners and not in caring for them, it was not the kind which God wanted, nor the type that Jesus exhibited.

Think of the modern-day surgeon. He ‘scrubs up’ before his operation. Why is he so careful to be clean? In order to help those who are diseased. True holiness is like that, replied Jesus. My holiness is like that. It is not contaminated by my eating with these sinners. Rather, it seeks to make them whole and holy too.”  Sinclair Ferguson, Let’s Study Mark

I am so grateful for Jesus, our Great Physician. I’m grateful that He is willing to take his clean, holy hands and dive right in to our gangrenous, sin-diseased flesh. He’s up to his elbows in our mess — cutting away, cleaning out, sewing up.

 Like the leper who falls prostrate before him, imploring him, “If you will, you can make me clean,” we kneel before him. And He is moved to pity, filled with gut-wrenching compassion, and he reaches out his hand and he touches us — he touches us in all of our messy, sin-stained state — and He says, “I will, be clean.” What a Savior!


Here is the audio of Kathryn Noon's message at the SweetMercies meeting on January 21. Enjoy!