Why Parables?

Sunday’s Scripture –July 5, 2020

Reflection

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spoke in parables?

Sometimes, Jesus used parables because they are accessible. He took something from everyday life– a seed, a sheep, a yoke– and used it to illustrate a spiritual truth. In our modern world, more removed from an agrarian lifestyle, the meaning of these parables are sometimes lost on us. But to those who heard them in person, they were down-to-earth and plain as day. And, with some context, they can be easily understood by us too.

Other times, however, Jesus used parables to encrypt their meaning from those who already thought they were “wise.” (Matthew 11:16-19) This was a problem with the religious leaders of the day. They knew a great deal. But rather than leverage it for the good of people, they used their privilege to lay heavy yokes on people. Ironically, this prideful behavior negated any wisdom they claimed to have.

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (Mt 11:25)

The passage goes on to say Jesus chooses to whom He will reveal God. It may be true that the meaning of a parable is concealed because the timing isn’t right. We can trust God’s plan as it unfolds.

But, it’s also possible that meaning is hidden because pride keeps one from accepting and receiving it. May it never be so with our church.

The question before us today is: will we be wise in our own eyes, assuming we already know and proud of it? Or, will we approach Jesus as an infant- completely dependent, believing we are worthy of love before we make a contribution? Jesus delights in revealing God.

If you’ve ever been frustrated that the parables of Jesus are hard to understand, take heart. So did the disciples at times. The burden to understand can feel heavy and tiresome, but the good news is that it isn’t on us to “figure out” wisdom. It’s on Jesus to reveal it to us. And Jesus will do so to anyone with a humble and willing spirit. Jesus offers us rest for our weariness and light yoke for our heavy one. That’s a pretty good trade. Will we take it?

Questions

  • Jesus is not against intellect and wisdom. He’s against the abuse of the power these things can give us. What privileges do you have and how can you use them to bless others?
  • Do you feel weary and tired? What heaviness do you need to give to Jesus in exchange for his lightness?
  • What will it take for you to approach Jesus as an infant today? (Again, this is not an excuse to be ignorant, but rather the posture it takes to really learn.)

 

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