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The Moral of the Story
Through most of the month of July we will be spending time in worship learning from the parables. As someone who has loved stories my entire life, the idea that Jesus would most often use stories to teach right from wrong brought me much joy. As a kid I always assumed that the entire Bible was made up of stories. I mean, most children’s Bibles are. It makes sense; children most easily learn from stories. That is after all, the entire reason fairy tales exist. Though it makes sense for children to learn this way the question remains, why would Jesus use stories when teaching adults?
There are a few possible explanations for this. Some people argue that when Jesus addressed the crowds there were people of all ages there, so he spoke in a way everyone could understand. Let’s be real, even the most mature among us learn best from illustrations. We can understand situations and scenarios far better than directions and rules. Jesus spoke in parables, because he knew we wouldn’t understand the guidelines. After all, we have been debating the meaning of the “Big Ten” ever since Moses brought them down the mountain.
What I really appreciate about the parables Jesus tells is that even though he tries to speak in simple terms, the people hearing them still have trouble understanding what he means. In at least one of the instances we look at the disciples acting all scholarly and stoic, only to beg Jesus to explain the meaning the second they get him alone.
So, here’s the thing about the stories of Jesus. Unlike my childhood understanding of the Bible as a moralistic storybook, the parables and teachings of Jesus are only half of the story. Just like the disciples needed Jesus to interpret the story he had told them, so too do we need God to explain what the stories mean for us. Otherwise, they are just good tales from days gone by. We need the Holy Spirit to help us understand Jesus’ stories in the light of our reality. The lesson doesn’t change, but the situation it applies to certainly does. I am looking forward to seeing what God has to teach us as we look back on the parables Jesus told. I pray we can hear the words of Jesus as they apply to our current reality. May you be blessed and be a blessing!