RS 25: Who is Jesus? (Assignment Two)

Directions:  What follows in bold is the verses from a parable found in Matthew 21:28-31.  Under each verse are some questions which are intended to help you understand the parable’s message and to relate it to your world today.  Address the questions that follow.

Activity one: The Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:44)

“The kingdom of heaven [God] is like treasure hidden in a field…”

Name those things that you consider “treasure” — those things you would truly long to have.

“which someone found and hid…”

What would be an example of something so wonderful; so desirable; so valuable that someone would want to hide it from everyone else?

“Then in his [her] joy…”

What would truly bring you joy, happiness and fulfillment in your life?  Be honest!  Explain why this would bring you the happiness that you think it will.  Does it bring happiness to others who have it?

“He [she] goes and sells all that he [she] has and buys that field”

Would you be willing to give up absolutely everything (all possessions) for something that would bring you true happiness?  Is this a radical thing to do?

Activity Two: Parable of the Two Sons (Matt 21:28-31)

“A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today’…”

Name some of the responsibilities you have been given by your parents.  As a person raised a Christian, what responsibility have you been given?

“He answered, ‘I will not’…”

Have you ever blatantly refused to do something that your Mom or Dad asked you to do?  Why did you refuse?   Have you refused to do what your faith asks of you?

“but later he changed his mind and went…”

Have you ever blatantly refused to do something that your Mom or Dad or your faith asked you to do and then changed your mind?  What made you change your mind?  How did you feel because of it?

“The father went to the second [son] and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go”

Have you ever told your Mom or Dad that you would do something that asked you to do when you knew you had no intentions of doing it?  Why would you say you would do something when you knew you would not?  Did your decision make you feel guilty?  Why or why not?

“Which of the two [sons] did the will of his father?”

Which of the two sons did the will of his father?  How would you answer this question?  Which of the sons would your parents approve of most?

Which son did the right thing?  Explain your answer.

The Lost Sheep

One of the ways Jesus taught his disciples was through parables. Parables are vivid stories that have a hidden message. Jesus often used parables to respond to criticism.

The Gospel of Luke is in the New Testament of the Bible. It tells of an incident where Jesus was preaching to a group of tax collectors and sinners.

…at which the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then he addressed this parable to them: “Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wasteland and follow the lost one until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ I tell you, there will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.” (Luke 15:2-7)

Explain the message of this parable.

The Treasure and the Pearl

In one of his parables found in the Bible, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and busy that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

What do you think is the message of this parable?

Jesus’ Moral Vision in the Parables

  1. Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
  2. Parable of the Talents
  3. The Sheep and the Goats
  4. Parable of the Mustard Seed
  5. Parable of the Good Samaritan
  6. The Rich Fool
  7. the barren fig tree
  8. Parable of the Prodigal Son
  9. The Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus
  10. the Pharisee and the tax collector

Two options for exploring these parables follow:
Option 1:
Read each parable and answer the following three questions about each parable:

  1. What has been taught by the parable?
  2. Can you think of a situation to which the parable applies today?
  3. What kind of person most needs to take this parable to heart?

Option 2:
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.

Chuang Tzu and Death

Chuang Tzu, who lived from about 369 to 268 B.C.E., was a leading Taoist thinker. (His name is also sometimes spelled Chuangtse.) his parables and anecdotes were collected in a book that bears his name, Chuang-tzu.

Chuang Tzu said that the only way to be happy and truly free was by understanding the Tao, or Way. If we understand the Way, then we need not fear death, as it is merely an inevitable part of the Way. Death makes new life possible.

How would you describe death?