Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard the mystical chris, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5″Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor? ” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it. ) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me. ”
We don’t often see Jesus depicted in scenes of settled domesticity. This is about as close as we get in the new Testament. We are in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha – three of Jesus’ closest friends – and they’ve organised a special dinner for Jesus. The disciples are there. All Jesus closest friends are there. This is about as close as we get in the Gospels to a family portrait. Second we can use the knowledge gained from other parables and the scripture as a whole to help us interpret the other parables. For example Jesus explains a few of the parables. We build our understanding from these. Jesus explains the parable of the sower.
A central truth to this parable is that the “good soil” brings forth fruit. The “good soil” are those that receive the gospel of Christ and are “born again” of the Spirit. The Bible teaches only those who are indwell by the Spirit of God can understand Scripture. Therefore it is a prerequisite that to understand the parables you must be a true believer of Christ. The Bible teaches that a seeker, one who is seeking to understand who Jesus is, first must accept Him for who He says He is the “Savior”. Once you repent and believe that you are “born again” of the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who allows you to understand and apply God’s Word to your life. “For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. ” Matt 13:12 RSV That is a basic, fundamental law of life. That is the great principle upon which God operates to govern human lives and human history. “To him who has will more be given… but from him who has not, even what he has [or, as Luke says, ‘even what he thinks he has’] will be taken away. ” Now, what does that mean? It is so fundamental that it applies to everything in life, to every realm of existence.
It is true on the physical level. You have muscles in your body. Suppose you deliberately refuse to use one? You will find that soon it will begin to weaken, and the strength you once had will be taken away. All you need do to render your arm paralyzed is simply to tie it up and not use it for a few months. Soon you will find you have lost the ability to use it. Life is built this way. This holds true for spiritual strength as well. Yet these “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 13: 11), containing “things kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Mt 13: 35), are now being made known through the preaching of the gospel of Christ. This mystery referred to God siting aside the nation of Israel and substituting the church as the subjects of the kingdom. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began” “but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith; ” – Ro 16: 25-26
As we study the parables, let us keep the following thoughts in mind. Let us always start with the immediate context of the parable looking for the question, situation, or problem Christ is addressing. We should start by asking the question, what is the problem that prompted the parable? When Jesus told a parable, He was dealing with either a Question or an Attitude – Often both at the same time. The question might be spoken or unspoken, after all, He can read our minds. Or He might be dealing with a bad attitude. We have to examine the context to see if a question was asked or implied. And we need to see if there is an attitude that needs to be dealt with, etc. If you don’t understand the question, you can’t come up with the right answer.