Stewards of the Kingdom

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our new series entitled “The Beginning of the End.” This series explores the resurrection of Jesus in tandem with some of Jesus’ teaching about the fall of Jerusalem and the end of all time. This weekend Gabriel Douglas preached from Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents.

This message is from the tenth and final part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, “‘Tis the Reason,” “Jesus Said What?!“, and “Scandalous Jesus.

You can find the message video and the sermon outline plus discussion questions below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

  1. Be excited about Jesus’ Return
  2. Know what Jesus teaches by reading His word
  3. You cannot live off of someone else’s talents
  4. Surrender your talents to Christ and be ready for Him

Discussion questions

  1. When you think of Jesus’ return, what emotions do you feel?
  2. What talents and abilities do you know that God has given you?
  3. Are there times where you have used those abilities for your own gain?
  4. What servant do you resonate with? The one who returned on investment or the one who kept the talent for themselves?
  5. Read Hebrews 12:2, what does it mean to you that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith?
  6. What is one way this week you can honor God with what He has given you?

How Should We Read Jesus’ Parables?: some basic guidance

Jesus knew we loved stories and so He spoke from stories quite a bit of the time. The type of stories he used were called parables. What is a parable? A parable is often defined as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” It’s a story that deals with earthy things in order to talk about deeper things.

The word ‘parable’ comes from two Greek words:

  • Para: which means “alongside”
  • Bole: which means “to throw”

So parable literally means “to throw alongside” or “to compare.” As Stuart Briscoe says: “A parable is a story designed to compare that which is patently obvious to that which may not be obvious at all.”[1]

Jesus used parables to draw His hearers in by talking about everyday things they were familiar with: taxes, fishing, house cleaning, farming, family…

But as He drew the story to a close it became clear—for those who were really listening—that He was also hitting at a deeper meaning. He was opening up a discussion about unseen things by talking about things we could see. He was talking about spiritual truth through everyday things.

But how should we read parables? Let me first offer a word of caution that weneed to think about how we are approaching these stories so that we’re not expecting them to be something they’re not.

Let me use a parable of sorts to explain what I mean. Suppose we were going to watch a movie and suppose that someone picked “Little Women” or “Sense and Sensibility,” both clearly long and sweeping, romantic dramas. Now, it would be very important for me to approach watching these movies in the right way. If I approach viewing those movies looking for action, blood and guts, or non-stop laughs, I am going to be sorely disappointed. Even if I could agree that the movie was good—good acting, good cinematography, good character development, good musical scoring—if I’m expecting the movie to be a comedy or an action movie then I may not understand the point of the movie and may not even think it’s good.

In earlier times in the church’s history, biblical scholars used a method of interpretation that included a lot of allegory. Allegories are stories where nearly every character, item, or event signifies some other thing. Those earlier interpreters provided a wide variety of meanings particularly when it came to interpreting parables, where allegorical or spiritual meanings were linked to many elements within the parables.

While allegorical interpretation does have some value in certain ways, this is not usually how we are supposed to read parables, unless Jesus makes it abundantly clear that such meanings are there. “Parables are not allegories – even if at times they have what appear to us to be allegorical features.”[2]

When we pay attention to their context—the situation or questions that prompted the story—we will find that the parables have one clear and pointed impact related to one fundamental issue.

When we read or listen to parables we shouldn’t try to find secret meanings in every nook and cranny of the story, but try to listen, with the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, for the strong, power-packed point on the main issue that hits us like swift punch in the gut.

So, as we approach the reading and interpretaton of parables, let us pray God will help us to hear the main idea Christ was speaking then and is speaking to us here and now today.


[1] Stuart Briscoe, Patterns for Power (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1979), 5.

[2] Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 138.

The Treasure, the Pearl, and the Net

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series, “Stories of the Kingdom: Parables of Jesus,” by looking at three parables of Jesus: the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great prices, and the net of fish. All of these parables, as well as Jesus concluding comments, are found in Matthew 13:44-52. These three brief parables open up to us some profound realities about God’s kingdom.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  (Matthew 13:44)

The Parable of the Treasure and the Pearl (Matthew 13:44-46)

  • The kingdom of God is more valuable than anything else
  • The disciples’ wholehearted response to God’s kingdom will be evident to all
  • Those who find the kingdom of God receive the gift now

The Parable of the Net (Matthew 13:47-50)

  • The present reality: good and bad fish intermixing in the water
  • The future gathering: gathering all kinds with God as judge
  • The future destiny: the wicked cast away and the righteous kept

Bringing Out the Old and the New

  • Jesus is the fulfillment of the law
  • Disciples of Jesus are teachers of both old and new

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ parables in one or more of the following ways:

  • Journal about one of these three parables, expressing your thoughts about them, what God is teaching you through them, as well as your prayers to God about them.
  • Draw, paint, or ink the parables as a way of reflecting on what Jesus is saying and praying about your own response to the Lord.
  • Parables are stories that take everyday things and bring forth deeper, spiritual meanings. Consider how you would describe what God’s kingdom is all about through your own parable. Maybe you could tell it to someone else or write it down to share with others.
  • Consider exploring more of Jesus’ parables by reading “All the Parables of Jesus” at the Jesus Film Project or reading Craig L. Blomberg’s book, Interpreting the Parables.

The Mustard Seed and the Yeast

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our series, “Stories of the Kingdom: Parables of Jesus,” by looking at the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast in Matthew 13:31-33. These two small, parallel parables open up to us some profound realities about God’s kingdom.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.’”  (Matthew 13:31)

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)

  • The small size of the mustard seed – the smallest seed that Jews at the time would regularly plant in their gardens
  • The external growth of the seed into a tree (10-12 feet tall)
  • The word from Ezekiel 17:22-24 – the nations gathered in

The Parable of the Yeast (Matthew 13:33)

  • The small size of the yeast – hidden on the inside
  • The internal transformation of the dough

Kingdom Perspective

  • Don’t despise small beginnings
  • Don’t rule out unseen possibilities

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed and the yeast in one or more of the following ways:

  • Journal about one or both of these parables, expressing your thoughts about them, what God is teaching you through them, as well as your prayers to God about them.
  • Draw, paint, or ink the parables as a way of reflecting on what Jesus is saying and praying about your own response to the Lord.
  • Set aside some time this week to make bread with a friend or family member. As you do that, consider the role of the yeast in the dough and what that speaks about the kingdom of God. Give the bread to someone else as a gift.
  • Look up or purchase some mustard seed. Share the parable of the mustard seed with someone and give them a mustard seed or two when you do that.

The Wheat and the Weeds

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our series, “Stories of the Kingdom: Parables of Jesus,” by looking at the parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30 and Jesus’ explanation of it in Matthew 13:36-43.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.’” (Matthew 13:24-25)

Elements of the Parable (Matthew 13:37-39)

Overview of the Parable of the Weeds
the sowerSon of Man (Jesus)
the fieldthe world
the good seed/wheatpeople of the kingdom
the weedspeople of the evil one
the enemythe devil
the harvestthe end of the age
the harvestersangels

The Present: Wheat and Weeds Together in the Field (Matthew 13:28-30a)

  • The reality of good and evil intermixed in the world
  • The witness of the good amidst the evil
  • The strain upon the good amidst the evil

The Future: A Coming Harvest (Matthew 13:40-43)

  • Waiting for the harvest
  • The collection of the weeds
  • The gathering of the wheat

Making It Real

  • Live full life with God
  • Recognize the tension
  • Bless even when cursed
  • Wait in trust

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds in one or more of the following ways:

  • Journal about this parable, expressing your thoughts about it, what God is teaching you through it, as well as your prayers to God about it.
  • Draw, paint, or ink the parable as a way of reflecting on what Jesus is saying and praying about your own response to the Lord.
  • Try to retell Jesus’ parable and its meaning to someone you know this week, discussing with them what it means for our lives.
  • Consider reading this article: “Reading the Parables of Jesus – Kenneth Bailey”