Passover is a special date in the Jewish calendar. In Jesus’ time, people traveled great distances to spend Passover in Jerusalem. Part of the Passover ritual involved sacrificing animals and paying a tax to the temple. Since this tax needed to be paid in local currency, people from other areas had to have their money changed. Those who made long journeys could not bring their own animals for sacrifice, so they bought them in Jerusalem.
Jesus, who was a Jew, went to Jerusalem at Passover time. Here is an account of his visit from the Bible.
As the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple precincts he came upon people engaged in selling oxen, sheep and doves, and others seated changing coins. He made a whip of cord and drove sheep and oxen alike out of the temple area, and knocked over the money-changers’ tables, spilling their coins. He told those who were selling doves: “Get them out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:13-16)
If worshippers needed to buy animals and change money, why do you think Jesus reacted in this way?
In his teaching, Jesus used everyday language. His lessons were based on things his listeners were familiar with. He spoke of shepherds and sheep, of rocky soil and mustard seed. These were all part of daily life in Palestine at that time.
Do you think Jesus’ message would have affected people as much if he had spoken in terms of heaven and angels, not rocks and farmers?
- Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
- Parable of the Talents
- The Sheep and the Goats
- Parable of the Mustard Seed
- Parable of the Good Samaritan
- The Rich Fool
- the barren fig tree
- Parable of the Prodigal Son
- The Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus
- the Pharisee and the tax collector
Two options for exploring these parables follow:
Read each parable and answer the following three questions about each parable:
- What has been taught by the parable?
- Can you think of a situation to which the parable applies today?
- What kind of person most needs to take this parable to heart?
Form a small group and select one parable from the list to produce as a short film. Try one of the following approaches
- make up a script that closely follows the words of the gospel passage with a narrator telling what is happening.
- make up a script that is a contemporary version of the parable or that shows the parable applied to a contemporary situation.
The life of a shepherd is often quiet and lonely. A shepherd could spend days alone with his thoughts, not seeing or talking to any other people.
As a boy and young man, Muhammad worked as a shepherd. He watched flocks of sheep in the hills outside Mecca, protecting them from attackers, both human and animal.
Later Muhammad became a successful merchant. But he was also a deeply moral man who thought about the ills of society. In his forties, Muhammad began to spend time alone in a cave in the mountains thinking. On one of his visits to the cave he had a vision. An angel appeared and told Muhammad that he was the appointed prophet of Allah, or God.
How do you think Muhammad’s early days as a shepherd contributed to his ability to spend time alone thinking?