Jesus used the Mustard Seed and Starter Dough parables to demonstrate that the Kingdom of Heaven is a living and active presence that is increasing within the realm of human experience.
Would you give a hungry child a poisonous arachnid to eat? Probably not, because even sinful human beings are not totally depraved. Would God give you something dangerous and destructive when you ask him for help? Certainly not, because he is the source and foundation of all goodness. In the Fathers Give Good Gifts simile, Jesus concludes his reassuring arguments that God can be trusted to provide for his full-time disciples when they pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Even casual Gospel observers notice that some of Jesus’ parables and similes come in pairs that resemble one another so strongly that they might be regarded as twins. But how does one determine which parables and similes truly are twins, and which might just bear a family resemblance? In this post David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton suggest five criteria that authenticate parables and similes as true twins.
When Jesus’ twelve emissaries to Israel returned from their mission, thrilled by their success at exorcising demons, Jesus described to them a vision of the expulsion of Satan from heaven. The vision’s message was double-edged: on the one hand, the downfall of the angelic prince meant that the way was opened for the redemption of Israel; on the other hand, having fallen to earth, Satan was about to unleash his fury against God’s chosen people.
In the past, some scholars have relied on the evidence of Jesus’ use of the word “Abba” to draw far-reaching conclusions about Jesus, the language he spoke, and his relationship to Judaism. As part of their ongoing research for the LOY project, David Bivin and Joshua Tilton revisited the evidence for Jesus’ use of “Abba” as an address to God. Tilton summarizes their findings here.