Jesus’ disciples see the withered fig tree on their return to Jerusalem from Bethany
When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him,
“Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus engages in conflict with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”
And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”
And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.
And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?”
They said, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’
And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’
But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants,
‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’
And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him,
‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’
And he was speechless.
Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.”
And they brought him a denarius.
And Jesus said to them,
“Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They said, “Caesar’s.”
Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’
Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:
‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”
And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying,
“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
They said to him, “The son of David.”
He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”
And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’
You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’
You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying,
‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’
Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
And they came again to Jerusalem.
And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”
Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”
And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”
—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”
And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
And he began to speak to them in parables.
“A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying,
‘They will respect my son.’
But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
And they brought one.
And he said to them,
“Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They said to him, “Caesar’s.”
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
And they marveled at him.
And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’
David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?”
And the great throng heard him gladly.
And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them,
“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.”
He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?”
And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
So they answered that they did not know where it came from.
And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
And he began to tell the people this parable:
“A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said,
‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’
But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves,
‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’
And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”
When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”
But he looked directly at them and said,
“What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”
But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?”
They said, “Caesar’s.”
He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”
Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.”
For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’
David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The Disciples marvel at the Temple; Jesus delivers the Olivet Discourse on their return to Bethany from Jerusalem
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them,
“You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”
And Jesus answered them,
“See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you,
‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry,
‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”
And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you,
‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And they asked him,
“Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”
And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’
and, ‘The time is at hand!’
Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
And he told them a parable:
“Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Here is a very useful tool of taking us daily this week through the steps of Jesus using the Scriptures. I will post this each day the reading and encourage parents to consider this a family devotional and discussion. I will have each day posted by early morning of the day.
What Happened on “Palm” Sunday?
Jesus, at the Mount of Olives, sends two disciples to secure a donkey and a colt; makes his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem; weeps over Jerusalem
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say,
‘The Lord needs them,’
and he will send them at once.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying,
“Who is this?”
And the crowds said,
“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you,
‘Why are you doing this?’
‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”
And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them,
“What are you doing, untying the colt?”
And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying,
“Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you,
‘Why are you untying it?’
you shall say this:
‘The Lord has need of it.’”
So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying the colt?”
And they said,
“The Lord has need of it.”
And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying,
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
Some Greeks seek Jesus
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him,
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven:
“I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said,
“An angel has spoken to him.”
“This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him,
“We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
So Jesus said to them,
“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
Jesus enters the temple area, then returns to Bethany
And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
And leaving them [i.e., the crowds and leaders], he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
HT: Justin Taylor
In Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson’s outstanding book on parenting, “Give Them Grace,” they start out the book with the important distinction that there is a difference between being a Christian parent and Christian parenting.
Being a Christian parent is simply a father or mother who has been saved by God’s grace through their personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior who paid the penalty for their sin. Most Christian parents have a burden for the soul of their child and work hard personally or through Christian agencies (their church or a para-church organization) to put their child in a position to hear the gospel message. For too many, once they hear that their child has spoken a prayer, raised their hand, and can claim that they have Jesus in their heart, we all rejoice with the angels in heaven that they are saved.
I am not trying to diminish the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of a child for I agree with Charles Spurgeon who once said, “As soon as a child is capable of being damned, he is capable of being saved. As soon as a child can sin, that child can, if God’s grace helps him, believe and receive the Word of God.” However, it is a dangerous and even negligent for a parent at that point to assume that the gospel work ends there. Just as in my own personal life, I have discovered that leaving the gospel as only an entry point to the Christian life and moving on to “serious Bible study” led me to the realm of being a Pharisee. Not that Bible study in any way was bad, but I lost sight of how the gospel is the central message of the Bible. I grew in knowledge of the Bible but not as Peter exhorts in 2 Peter 3:18, “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Such a path for me led the way I parented my children. I taught them that God wants morality and that the real expression of our faith is in how good they were. The Christian faith is all about behavior and God is displeased with them when they misbehave and pleased when they behave. So as their father and God’s agent of authority in their lives, I was very displeased at their bad behavior (however I defined it) and so must discipline them, and I was very happy when they behaved (especially in public as it fed my pride in being a good father).
My children deserve the Christian faith Purple Heart medal for the wounds of moralism inflicted upon them. They survived my parenting because the particular grace of God touched each one of them as they grew in their own understanding of the gospel and the tenets of the Christian faith. Most of all they and their mother and father eventually grasped the truth that we all are radically sinful people who have a radical Savior who radically loved and continue to love us. So…they have recovered, and their mom and dad are certified recovering Pharisees living and loving in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
More recovery news to come…
“Give Them Grace” by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Crossway; 2011
“Come Ye Children,” by Charles Spurgeon. Pilgrim Publishing, 1976
Christina Fox gets gospel-centered parenting. You don’t get to this overnight but it begins with the process that in your own heart, the gospel changes you. I have been away from writing on the blog for a while as other priorities have been pressing, but my plan is to present a series of how do we move from our natural, law-centered parenting to a more gospel-centered paradigm. Christina writes:
Cooking dinner, I hear the sounds of angry hearts bubbling over into stinging words. It gets louder, and soon someone is crying. Two boys come out into the great-room, red-faced, fists clenched, and both yelling at once. After multiple attempts, I finally gather that one had frustrated the other, who responded by kicking his brother.
I begin by saying, “Remember how Jesus said we were to treat one another?”
“I’m not Jesus!” my oldest responds immediately, his face scrunched up as his feet stomp the tile floor. He runs off to his room.
Sometimes, my children speak words that the Spirit has been trying to pierce into my heart for a while.
The pasta is boiling over. The water makes sizzling sounds as it hits the red glass cook top. I stare at it, knowing I need to leave the kitchen and talk through the conflict with them. I think of how quickly anger can overflow the heart, spattering burning hot drops of pain on anyone nearby.
Turning down the heat on the pot, I walk into the boy’s room, hoping to do the same with their anger. I find them both calm and playing with Legos. I get down on the floor, look my oldest in the eyes, and say, “I know you’re not Jesus.”
Deep into the Past
How often does a parent’s response to her child’s behavior imply that we expect perfection? The pharisaical heart has roots that dig deep into the past–back into childhood. A child can learn quickly the ways of self-righteousness. When they have behaved, they hear, “You’re such a good boy.” Over the years, they can grow to believe that the good they do comes from their own ability. When those beliefs take root, they can struggle with seeing their own sin. And perhaps even struggle with seeing their need for a Savior.
“Jesus called us to live as he lived. But he knows we can’t be perfect as he is perfect,” I tell my son. “That’s why he died for us, because we can’t do what’s right. Through faith in him, he gives us the Holy Spirit. We have his power living within us. That’s the only way we can ever obey. We need to pray and ask for his help.”
He nods his head, listening.
“When you don’t obey, remember that Jesus died for that disobedience. He loves you that much. When you feel the anger rising within you, pray and tell God you are angry. Ask him to help you to obey him.”
As a recovering Pharisee, I struggle with living as though I can earn grace. I know how the self-righteous heart can look down on those who don’t follow the rules. I don’t want my children to grow up with the heart of a Pharisee.
I do want them to know the holiness of God. I want them to know all that he expects, what he commands, and what glorifies him. I also want them to realize that they can’t perfectly obey him, and they need a Savior. I want their hearts to be grieved and humbled by their sin. I want them to run to the cross when they sin and remember his grace and mercy.
God’s grace covers even my parenting blunders. How grateful I am that his grace is greater than all my sin! I rest in his promise that he is at work in my children’s hearts despite my failed efforts. I trust in the story of redemption he is writing in their lives. And I look forward to that day when we will finally be like Jesus.
By Scotty Smith, Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17
Dear Lord Jesus, this story is a blinking neon-sign of grace, gloriously declaring what a wonderful, merciful Savior you are. No one is so welcoming, kind-hearted or caring as you. It’s also a Scripture that underscores that, of all the ways we love children, the most important way we love them is by constantly bringing them to you. Whether they’re babies, teenagers, or adults themselves, it makes no difference. At every stage of life, our kids need you, Jesus, more than air, water and a tomorrow.
For our children who’ve yet to find life in you, have mercy on them and bring them to a saving knowledge of yourself, Jesus. They don’t just need to “grow up” and be responsible. They don’t need religion or a mature spirituality. They don’t need moral reform and a haircut. They need the gospel of your grace—they need you. Show them how much they need you, and show them how much you love them. Keep them restless until they rest in your complete forgiveness and perfect righteousness. More than we want Harvard for our children, we want heaven.
Jesus, some of us grieve the ways we’ve made the gospel less than beautiful and believable to our children. Forgive us, and show yourself to be the God who is limited by nothing, including parental self-righteousness. Transcend the ways we’ve blown it. But also grant us humility and grace to repent, first before you and then to them. Free us to give our children the gift of our repentance.
For our children who know you but currently seem to have waning or zero interest in you, or even ambivalence or antipathy toward you, hear our cry. Restore to them the joy of your salvation. Our confidence is in the our Father’s promise to bring to completion the good work he’s begun in each of us, but Jesus, we cannot afford to be either presumptuous or passive. Work powerfully. Work presently. Work persistently, we ask for your name’s sake. Give us patience with their doubts. Give us forbearance in their struggles. Give us grace to welcome prodigals home.
Lastly, Jesus, we ask you to restore us to the childlikeness of our early days of knowing you. Free us from childishness, indeed, but renew our hearts in childlike joy, playfulness, gratefulness, and simplicity. Our bodies and minds are getting older, but cause our hearts to dance, once again, in the utter and matchless delight of being loved by you. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and glorious name.
I was meditating on the 4 words of Ephesians 6:4 “but bring them up” for fathers today. First “but” means what follows will be in contrast to what was just said, “Do not provoke your children to anger.” The emotion of anger is one that expresses destruction. When anger is used righteously, it focuses on destroying unrighteousness. When anger is unrighteous, it usually destroys the person directed to and yourself. Provoking a child to anger only leads to destruction. The call in Ephesians 6:4 is to not contribute to such a situation “but bring them up.”
This phrase “bring them up” is also used in Exodus 3:8 and note the parallels for us as fathers, “and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” (Exodus 3:8 ESV)
Do you see that God came down to the Israelites to deliver them and to bring them up and out of their slavery. God took initiative and moved to them in order to bring them up. That tells me as a father, to bring up my children, I need to first move towards them. It is as if I bend over and swoop them up in my arms and take them to a good and broad land that is flowing with milk and honey. But even in such a good land, there are perils that need to be prepared for; the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites of the world. However, they are being brought there and I am to discipline and instruct them with the Word of God.
As we move towards Father’s Day, let us come down to our children and by our presence in their lives and strong outstretched arms, bring them up.
Continuing from Lou Priolo’s book “The Heart of Anger” (Calvary Press), twenty-five conditions or behaviors are identified that represent common ways that parents tend to provoke their children to anger. The command from Ephesians 6:4 is that fathers are not to contribute to the situation and to whatever degree I as a father may be contributing, I must stop it!
Here are the last 12 conditions or behaviors. For a thorough teaching on the topic, please read Lou Priolo’s excellent book. You might want to keep the towel in your mouth to bite on because the pain from the first 13 only gets worse!
14. Not Making Time “Just to Talk” – James 1:1; Eccl 3:7
Relationships are impossible to build without communication. If you do not build a good relationship through communication with your child, they will seek it elsewhere which could be dangerous. Watch the pressures and “pleasures of life” do not rob you of time with your children to talk.
15. Not Praising or Encouraging Your Child – Rev 2:2-4
Accurate evaluation is necessary for all of us, including self-assessments. It helps us know what we need to correct in our lives. Too often parents focus on only what is wrong and the child may incorrectly evaluate themselves in the same light. Keep your child regularly bathed in a solution of praise, especially to those things that are pleasing to God in their life so when reproof comes, they see it is an element of biblical love. It is looking for evidences of grace in their lives when they are living out Galatians 5:22-23.
16. Failing to Keep Your Promises – Matt 5:37; Ps 15:4-5; Col 3:9
Promises and commitments are usually made with every intention to keep them and not to deceive. However, when they are not consistently kept, regardless of the reason, disappointment can turn into anger. A string of broken promises may have a child begin to see the parent as undependable, unreliable, and deceitful. If we need to break a commitment we should go to the child and let them know as soon as possible or if we did break a commitment, we need to seek forgiveness for we have sinned against our child.
17. Chastening in Front of Others – Matt 18:15
The Lord’s instructions for discipline apply to the home and should be followed by parents and spouses. The circle of confession and correction should only be as large as the circle of offense. If your child sins in front of others, he may in certain cases be verbally corrected (not physically) in front of them. If the sin is not public, the discipline should not be either.
18. Not Allowing Enough Freedom – James 3:17; Luke 12:48
Children earn freedom by demonstrating faithfulness. Faithfulness is demonstrating to God and others that you can be trusted with increasing freedom based upon two things: the successful fulfillment of specific responsibilities and the successful competence to make wise biblical decisions. Some parents withhold freedom due to insecurity, overprotective, unbiblical standards, concern about what others think.
19. Allowing Too Much Freedom – Prov 29:15; Gal 4:1,2; Heb 12:6-9
When children are allowed to (1) practice sinful behavior (2) participate in non-sinful activities before demonstrating the appropriate level of responsibility and maturity to handle it (money) (3) live an undisciplined life – other problems develop. Parents will suffer along with their children. Children who grow up in homes where discipline lacks, will quickly conclude that they are not loved.
20. Mocking Your Child – Job 17:1-2; Ex 4:11
There are 2 main categories of teasing our children that can be provoking: Making fun of inadequacies about which they can do nothing about (intelligence, athletics, physical features, motor coordination.) These are not sinful and God takes responsibility for them. The other is making fun of things that are sinful. Sinful behavior in children is not a laughing matter to God and should not be for us.
21. Abusing Them Physically – I Tim 3:3; Num 22:27-29
The story of Balaam is similar to a parent out of control
1. He struck the donkey in haste before he collected the relevant data. Jumping to hasty and unfounded conclusions and disciplining our children for the wrong reasons.
2. Balaam struck the donkey because he was embarrassed – making sure our motives for discipline are biblical – to not is to be vindictive and abusive.
3. Balaam was out of control – if he could have, he would have killed his donkey. Do not discipline when you are out of control.
22. Ridiculing or Name Calling – Eph 4:29
There are proper biblical categories to call different behaviors. Use biblical language to your child so the behavior or attitude are properly isolated. Names are to be tools for teaching and motivation to change, not weapons. When a weapon, it embarrasses, shames and antagonizes the child.
23. Unrealistic Expectations – I Cor 13:11
We should not impose on our children standards or expectations that they developmentally are incapable of achieving. Our emphasis is to always be character and not achievement (academics, sports, music)
24. Practicing Favoritism – Luke 15:25-30
Every child is different and should be treated as individuals. The standard however is that they are to be evaluated and responded to the same. When a child perceives that the treatment of a sibling is different, you need to assure them that they will be treated the same way if they are in similar circumstances.
25. Child Training with Worldly Methodologies, Inconsistent with God’s Word – Eph 6:4
In Eph 6:4, notice the word “but” and the “instruction of the Lord.” A contrast is being stated that there is a right way and a wrong way. One way will provoke anger and the other will not. Using behavior modification therapy techniques will prove temporary results but will eventually frustrate the process. You cannot replace Christ and the Scriptures with worldly wisdom.
In Lou Priolo’s book “The Heart of Anger” (Calvary Press) he identifies twenty-five conditions or behaviors that represent common ways that parents tend to provoke their children to anger. It is important to realize that a child or anyone who is angry cannot blame their anger on someone else. Anger is a chosen response and anyone who is angry is totally responsible for that anger. The command from Ephesians 6:4 is that fathers are not to contribute to the situation and to whatever degree I as a father may be contributing, I must stop it!
Today I will post the first 13 and tomorrow the last 12. For a thorough teaching on the topic, please read Lou Priolo’s excellent book. You might want to put a towel in your mouth to bite on because this is going to hurt!
1. Lack of Marital Harmony – Gen 2:24; Heb. 12:15
Perhaps the greatest provocation of anger in children is parents who do not live with each other in harmony that the Scriptures prescribe. When there is bitterness, it has effects on others and children can acquire this as well.
2. Establishing and Maintaining a Child-Centered Home – Prov. 29:15 (The book gives outstanding instruction in this area that too many homes are guilty of these days!)
Children start to see themselves as equal to their parents in status. It will bring expectations that their wants and desires will be placed on an equal status as the parents. Results will be frustrations and anger.
3. Modeling Sinful Anger – Prov. 22:24, 25
If you are displaying anger, your children can be learning your ways. It is manifested in the tone of voice or in the lack of self-control/ignoring actions – fight or flight. Teaches a child that there is no such thing as problem solving but the only solution is to win – get your way.
4. Habitually Disciplining While Angry – Ps 38:1; Eph. 4:26, 27; James 1:19, 20
When we are angry, it is easy to over discipline. The emphasis of our thinking and of subsequent discipline is to be on what the child has done by sinning against the Lord, not on how their actions have caused us some personal discomfort, trouble or embarrassment. Over discipline can be perceived by a child as a personal attack.
5. Scolding – Eph. 4:29; Mark 14:3-5
It is the expression of a bad spirit. As much as possible, all discipline should be done with as normal tone of voice as possible with carefully measured words.
6. Being Inconsistent with Discipline – 2 Cor. 1:17,18; Eccl 8:11
Common in 2 ways: First having different standards by each parent. Second is vacillating from day to day on what behavior is disciplined and how severe correction will be. The inconsistencies can come from different philosophies or methods of child rearing. One parent may struggle with emotions, spiritually, or physically. There also may the lack of wanting to put the time in.
7. Having Double Standards – Phil 4:9
Being a hypocrite. Calling for biblical standards in your children and then not willing to live by biblical standards yourself.
8. Legalism – Matt 15:8-9
Defined as elevating man-made rules to the same level of culpability as the commands given by God in Scripture. Need to divide out in a home biblically directed rules and biblically derived rules or God’s rules and house rules. Directed rules or God’s rules are those which all obligated to obey because God commands them. Derived rules or house rules are based on biblical principles and the obligation to obey is based upon God-ordained authority. House rules may be appealed but God’s rules cannot be.
9. Not Admitting You Are Wrong and Not Asking for Forgiveness – Matt 5:23, 24; James 5:16
A parent’s failure to acknowledge offenses to their children discourages the child from practicing open biblical communication.
10. Constantly Finding Fault – Job 32:2-3; Prov. 19:11
A parent is to point out sinful behavior and character problems but is not to be critical, condemning, accusing, or have a judgmental attitude. It is a spirit where the child begins to question whether they can do anything right. The safeguard is to purpose to praise, commend and acknowledge biblical achievement with greater frequency than reproving. Don’t turn every situation to reprove into a sermon.
11. Parents Reversing God-Given Roles – Eph. 5:22-24
A home where God’s order is violated will be a home that is frustrated. It presents confusion to the child on God’s plan for authority, leadership and submission.
12. Not Listening to Your Child’s Opinion or Taking His or Her “Side of the Story” Seriously – Prov. 18:3; 18:17
You may not agree always with your child’s reasoning, conclusions and opinions, but if you are going to lead them into truth, you need to understand their perspective. By not doing do, you may be communicating sinful attitudes such as arrogance, impatience, or a lack of love. To listen is to help your child learn how to receive a reproof biblically.
13. Comparing Them to Others – 2 Cor. 10:12
Every child has unique gifts and abilities given by God. Proper comparing should be made two ways: forward looking – by comparing where the child is today to the biblical standards of maturity or backward looking – comparing the child’s maturity today to other various points in the past.
So that we as fathers can carry out the orders given to us from God in Ephesians 6:4, let’s begin with understanding the fundamentals that lead us to joyfully fulfill the command to not provoke our children but rather to instruct them.
First of all Psalm 127 states that children are a gift from the Lord, a reward. How so? One way they are a gift is that God has given you children for your own personal holiness and growth. Being married has been a growing experience in my sanctification but being a father put me over the top. Every crack in my spiritual armor was blown wide open. Pride, selfishness, lack of patience, and many others, were all exposed. Therefore, my children were a gift to show me my sin and daily need of the gospel. We as fathers are sinners, who have been given sinners as gifts from God with the task that together, we as a family can grow toward God. The privilege of the gift is to teach the gospel to them so that they might be saved and one day when we all stand before the throne, they will not be known as my children, but as my brother and sister in Christ.
So Ephesians 6:4 begins with we fathers looking at ourselves. 2 Corinthians 7:1 states, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.” In other words, my first priority before addressing my children is to purify myself. If I am addressing my children, they need me to be able to think clearly, effectively, and biblically. Men, if you are neglecting your own spiritual growth and your walk with God, it will have a profound impact on your motivation and your ability to carry out God’s command to you in regards to your children.
Tomorrow: Ways we typically provoke our children.
Most men like straight talk. Just tell me what you want me to do and/or not to do. I do not want a lot of details but enough that I understand what needs to be done.
God obviously knows this and so for you fathers reading this who are like me, God gives it to us short and sweet. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) That’s it! The only direct command given to fathers in the New Testament. A negative followed by a positive. Don’t do this and do that! Simple, concise, yet so much to unpack.
Between now and Father’s Day, I will try to unravel this verse and hopefully encourage fathers who read it to be examples of gospel grace in the lives of their children. Tune in the next few weeks.