Everyone has a story to tell. As we tell our stories to one another, our tales become real, and they reinforce who we are. God also has a story to tell us. Jesus came to tell us that story. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not a theologian, but rather, a storyteller. Jesus told us stories about who God is and God’s will for creation. Jesus didn’t use abstract theories to tell us about an abstract God. Jesus was someone with his feet very much on the ground, able to talk to ordinary people in ordinary terms. Jesus told stories that we commonly refer to as parables. Jesus could see into people’s hearts and relate stories in everyday language with everyday pictures to reveal God to us. Jesus was a master storyteller!
It is not only Jesus’ parables that tell God’s story, but his whole life and ministry reinforced these stories as well. Jesus did not paint vivid, visual pictures of God’s love only through his words, but also through his actions. His giving of the bread and wine to his disciples at the last supper was an acted parable, as was his carefully planned entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. His eating with tax collectors and sinners was acting out of the prodigal son. His miracles were pictures of the kingdom of God here on earth. Jesus’ parables were not just a convenient teaching method that Jesus happened to use; they were a part of his overall ministry. His stories, both told and acted out, demonstrated to the common people what he had come here to do.
If Jesus’ parables were such a significant part of his ministry, then it should be important to us to seek to understand them, both for their historical context in revealing the deeper meaning about God and for the Christian who seeks to understand God’s continuing story in their own lives – here and now! Most biblical scholars agree that the parables are among the most authentic words of Jesus. Some say that the heart of the gospel message (God) can be found in them.
A parable is a unique and fascinating way of communicating. It can hold the attention of a small child and change the life of the most hardened adult. Jesus told parables as a way to communicate to everyone on many different levels. They tease us with simplicity, and at the same time draw us into the depths of our relationship with God. When we understand them at their most profound levels they can startle, comfort, challenge, and change us!
I invite you to join us in exploring these wondrous stories that have transformed people’s lives for centuries. These are not just stories Jesus told to us two thousand years ago; they are timeless stories which continue to speak to our faith and to help us to understand the heart of God’s word today in our lives so that God’s story may become our story as well.
The God Talk Series on the Parables began on October 3, 2022.
It concluded on Monday, February 20, 2023.
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