As we wrap up our reading of Matthew, our family is reflecting back on what we’ve learned over the past month. Personally, I have been pleasantly surprised both by the reading skills and stamina of our youngest and the thoughtful questions and discussions we’ve had with both kids stemming from our readings. Our biggest regret throughout the month has been that by the time we finish our readings, there isn’t much time left for discussion. So, instead of moving on to the Gospel of Mark in February, we decided to stick around in Matthew for a little longer. We would like to review some more, focusing on a handful of the parables and spending more time reflecting on how Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven and his mission.

It can be challenging for me to get beyond my mindset of ticking boxes and meeting goals, but I’m working to embrace that the goal of this reading plan is not reading through a certain number of books in a month or a year, but learning to read and study more thoughtfully, to approach Scripture with curiosity, and to build habits of study with the kids that will help them throughout their lives. So, sometimes that means adapting the plan as we go to allow for more of those deep discussions and times for reflection.

In January, I listened to all of the episodes of the Parables podcast series from the Bible Project, and found it interesting and challenging. Their approach encourages readers to look at Jesus and his context first before immediately trying to superimpose our own ideas into the parables. We certainly all come with our own preconceived notions about what things mean, and it can be a challenge to read these familiar stories with new eyes. But that’s our plan for February: to read through a selection of parables slowly and with more questions and openness.

So, our plan for February is to listen to some of the key podcast episodes to learn about this approach to the parables, and then put what we learn into practice by reading and discussing a selection of parables throughout the month. As we read, we will ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Which type of parable is this: one describing the surprising arrival of God’s kingdom, the upside down value system of the kingdom, or a moment of crisis when the character must make a choice? 
  • Who are the main characters or essential elements in the story?
    • What could those characters or elements symbolize in the context of what Jesus was doing?
    • How do we see ourselves in those characters, or how can the value system apply today?
  • Is there anything surprising or unusual about this story?
  • What questions do we still have?

February Reading and Learning Plan

  • Listen to Parables episode 5: Decoding the Parables
  • Listen to Parables episode 6: Finding Meaning in the Parables
  • Parables video & discussion
  • Listen to Parables episode 7: Parables in Context – Parables Q+R
  • Read and discuss the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23)
  • Read and discuss the parables of Tares & Wheat (13:24-30,37-43) and the Dragnet (13:47-50)
  • Read and discuss the parables of the Mustard Seed (13:31-32) and Leaven (13:33) and compare to leaven used in Matthew 16:6-12
  • Read and discuss the parables of Treasure (13:44) and the Costly Pearl (13:45-46)
  • Read and discuss the parables of 10 Virgins (25:1-13)
  • Wrap up discussion & review
Downloadable PDF