Parables Workbook: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told

Parables Workbook: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told

by John MacArthur

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Overview

Parables Workbook: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told by John MacArthur

Jesus was a master storyteller, and the parables He told were ingeniously simple word pictures. Some of them were no more than fleeting remarks about commonplace incidents, objects, or persons. In fact, the most compact of all Jesus' short stories does not even fill a complete verse of Scripture. Yet the all were filled with profound spiritual lessons that He wanted His listeners to hear and understand. Jesus told these parables so they would clearly comprehend His message about the kingdom of God and the reason He had come to earth.

In the Parables Workbook, master expositor and Bible commentator John MacArthur draws on his years spent studying and explaining the Word of God to guide readers through some of the most famous and influential short stories that Jesus told. Each session contains the following:

  • Biblical focus: the primary passages on which the session draws
  • Another look: questions to facilitate review of content in the book
  • Biblical connections: questions that focus on the main Bible passage
  • Highlighting the lesson: questions that focus on the central teaching points
  • Lasting implications: questions to help draw out personal conclusions
  • Daily assignments: five sets of questions that reflect on the parable, the point, the purpose, the principles, and the practical application

This workbook has been designed to enhance readers' experience of reading the book and is intended both for individual use and for study in a small-group setting.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310686422
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 503,091
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John MacArthur has served as the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, since 1969. His ministry of expository preaching is unparalleled in its breadth and influence. In more than four decades of ministry from the same pulpit, he has preached verse by verse through the entire New Testament (and several key sections of the Old Testament). He is president of the Master’s University and Seminary and can be heard daily on the Grace to You radio broadcast (carried on hundreds of radio stations worldwide). He has authored a number of bestselling books, including Twelve Ordinary Men, and One Perfect Life.

For more details about John MacArthur and his Bible-teaching resources, contact Grace to You at 800-55-GRACE or gty.org.

Read an Excerpt

Parables Workbook

The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told


By John MacArthur, Karen Lee-Thorp

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2016 John MacArthur
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-68643-9



CHAPTER 1

Lesson 1


One Ominous Day in Galilee

Then one was brought to [Jesus] who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

MATTHEW 12:22–24


Main Objectives

In this study, you will (1) look at why Jesus shifted from teaching straight-forward sermons to teaching in parables, (2) examine what role the Sabbath has played in the history of redemption, and (3) consider what our words and actions say about our attitude toward Jesus.


Read and Review

Read the introduction and chapter 1 from Parables and answer the questions that follow. If you're meeting in a small group, you might want to have someone read each of the following excerpts from Parables aloud before you discuss the questions related to it.


A Shift in Style

One very busy day near the end of Jesus' second year of public ministry, He had an encounter with some hostile Pharisees, and the whole character of His teaching suddenly changed. He no longer preached straightforward sermons peppered with key prophetic texts from the Old Testament. From that point on, whenever He taught publicly, He spoke in parables. Such an abrupt shift in Jesus' teaching style was a portent of judgment against the religious elite of Israel and all who followed their lead. (Parables, page 1)

1. Read Matthew 5:21–30. How would you describe Jesus' style of teaching in this passage?

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2. Read Luke 4:16–27. How would you describe Jesus' style of teaching in this passage? How is it like or unlike the way he teaches in Matthew 5:21–30?

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3. Read Matthew 13:31–35. How would you describe Jesus' style of teaching in this passage? How is His teaching in parables like or unlike the way he teaches in Matthew 5:21–30 and Luke 4:16–27?

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The Pharisees and the Sabbath

Matthew 12 begins with a major confrontation provoked by a Pharisaical Sabbath-enforcement squad. The disciples were hungry and had plucked some heads of grain to eat while walking through a field of wheat or barley on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were up in arms and contended with Jesus over the propriety of what His disciples had done (Matthew 12:1–2). According to the Pharisees' rules, even casually plucking a handful of grain was a form of gleaning, and therefore it was work. This was precisely the kind of seemingly inconsequential act that the Pharisees routinely targeted, turning even the bare necessities of life into a thousand unwritten Sabbatarian taboos....

Jesus replied by showing the folly of a rule that forbids an act of human necessity on a day set aside for the benefit of humanity: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). He rebuked the Pharisees for condemning the guiltless, and then added that famous declaration of His own divine authority: "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). (Parables, page 5)

4. How is it different to think about the Sabbath as made for man, as opposed to man for the Sabbath? How would one's approach to the Sabbath be different?

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5. Why is it a claim of divine authority to say, "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath"?

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6. Which do you think is more of a problem among Christians today: needless legalism or too little regard for God's commands? Give an example.

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The Unpardonable Sin

The hard-hearted intentionality of the Pharisees' sin is the main factor that made it unpardonable. Why would they credit Satan with what Jesus had done through the power of the Holy Spirit? They had just watched Him vanquish demons. They fully grasped who Jesus was and with what authority He spoke and acted (Luke 6:10–11; John 11:47–48; 12:9; Acts 4:16) — andyet they hated Him with a devilish hatred anyway. It's clear that they were lying when they said He was the devilish one....

Why was their statement such a grievous offense against the Holy Spirit? For one thing, the demoniac's healing was as much a work of the Holy Spirit as it was a work of Christ. All Jesus' miracles were done according to the will of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14; John 5:19,30; 8:28; Acts 10:38). Therefore to attribute our Lord's miracles to Satan was to credit Satan with the Holy Spirit's work. Because they knew better, the Pharisees' abominable insult was a direct, deliberate, diabolical blasphemy against the Spirit of God. (Parables, pages 12–13)

7. Why did the Pharisees' words in Matthew 12:24 constitute a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

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8. Do you think atheists today are guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?

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9. What were the heart-level sins that led the Pharisees to lie about the miracles Jesus was performing instead of enthusiastically embracing them as coming from God?

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Make the Connection

Read the following Scripture passages and answer the questions provided. If you are meeting in a small group, you might want to have someone read each passage aloud before you discuss the questions related to it.


The Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

"Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break
And smoking flax He will not quench
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust."
(Matthew 12:14-21)

10. Why did Jesus withdraw from the conflict with the Pharisees?

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11. What does the passage from Isaiah that Matthew quotes tell us about Jesus and His ministry?

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12. How are these truths about Jesus still relevant to us today?

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[Jesus said,] "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:33–37)

13. According to Jesus, why was it inevitable the Pharisees would say ugly and lying things about Him?

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14. What sort of fruit does a good tree produce? What are some examples of good fruit in a person's life?

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15. What do your words say about you? What is an example of something good they say about you, and what is an example of something you might need to work on?

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Explore the Key Points

Take some time to consider how a few of the big ideas of this chapter intersect with your own life. It will be helpful to answer these questions on your own before you discuss them with your group. If you're meeting with a group, you may want to have someone read aloud the key point before you discuss it.


The Role of the Sabbath

The Sabbath plays a key role in the history of redemption. On the seventh day of the week when God created the heavens and the earth, God rested from his work (see Genesis 2:1–3). He then declared the Sabbath holy as a gift to humanity (see Exodus 20:8–11). Because of humanity's sin, work is a never-ending drudgery, but God gave the Sabbath as an opportunity for humans to enter into the delight of the Lord's rest on a regular basis. It is a celebration of the Lord's finished work, and all humanity is urged to join the celebration.

But the full glory of the Sabbath was ultimately unveiled in the finished work of Christ (see John 19:30). This is why Paul declares in Colossians 2:16–17, "Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." Christians already enjoy the rest of God's finished work in their lives, so formal Sabbath-keeping is no longer a law for Christians to observe. Rest is still good, but a formal keeping of the seventh day of the week is no longer binding on Christians.

16. What purposes did the Sabbath have in the lives of the Jews before Jesus' coming? What did the Sabbath teach them and do for them if they kept it as it was intended?

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17. Even though the Sabbath law is no longer binding on Christians, it is still good for us to have a rhythm of work and rest. What role does work play in your life? To what extent would you describe it as drudgery? Does it have any positive aspects?

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18. What role does regular rest play in your life? What do you think a good rhythm of work and rest would look like for you?

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Forgivable Sin

In discussing the Pharisees' uniquely unforgivable blasphemy, Jesus made a comprehensive statement about every other imaginable kind of sin: "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men" (Matthew 12:31). Note that Jesus was not saying that anyone's sin is forgiven automatically even if they don't repent and believe in Him. Every sin is bad enough to deserve eternal punishment as long as the sinner remains impenitent and unbelieving. "He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

However, even the worst sin is forgivable — and complete forgiveness is guaranteed to every sinner who renounces his love of sin and turns to Christ as Savior. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9, emphasis added). In other words, when we agree with God concerning our own guilt, the atoning blood of Christ cleanses us from every kind of sin or blasphemy — no matter how abominable. Jesus Himself made this promise: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).

19. Why do we deserve eternal punishment even if we have never committed any of the abominable sins of deliberate harm to other people?

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20. Are there any sins that you can't imagine God forgiving — that you don't want Him to forgive? Child abuse? Rape? Mass murder? Explain your attitude.

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21. Are there any sins you have committed that you have difficulty accepting forgiveness for? You don't have to name them to others, but do name them to yourself. God wants you to experience the complete freedom that comes from acknowledging your guilt there and believing Him when He says He forgives you.

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Living the Parable

We've covered a lot in this lesson. Now it is your chance to pull it all together and decide what is the most important principle(s) you need to take to heart. You probably can't change your life in half a dozen ways this week, so prayerfully consider what is God's top priority for you.

22. What is your main takeaway(s) from this lesson? What do you want to take to heart as you go forward?

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23. What are some things you will do to apply what you've learned?

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Reflect and Respond

At the end of each lesson, you will find suggested Scripture readings for spending time alone with God during five days of the coming week. Each day of this week's readings will deal with the theme of being teachable, as that was a key quality that the Pharisees lacked in their interactions with Jesus. Read each passage slowly, pausing to think about what is being said. Rather than approaching this as an assignment to complete, think of it as an encounter with your heavenly Father. Use any of the questions that are helpful.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Parables Workbook by John MacArthur, Karen Lee-Thorp. Copyright © 2016 John MacArthur. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: The Purpose of Parables, vii,
How to Use This Workbook, ix,
Lesson 1: One Ominous Day in Galilee, 1,
Lesson 2: A Lesson About Receiving the Word, 15,
Lesson 3: A Lesson About the Cost of Discipleship, 29,
Lesson 4: A Lesson About Justice and Grace, 43,
Lesson 5: A Lesson About Neighborly Love, 57,
Lesson 6: A Lesson About Justification by Faith, 71,
Lesson 7: A Lesson About Faithfulness, 87,
Lesson 8: A Lesson About Serpentine Wisdom, 101,
Lesson 9: A Lesson About Heaven and Hell, 115,
Lesson 10: A Lesson About Persistence in Praye, 131,
Bonus Lesson: A Lesson About God's Love, 145,
Leader's Notes, 161,

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