That same day Jesus left the house and went to the lakeside, where he sat down to teach. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the crowd stood on the shore. He used parables to tell them many things.
‘Once there was a man who went out to sow grain.’ (verses 1-3)
‘Making up stories’ is a euphemism for telling lies. Jesus, however, turns this concept on its head. He uses stories to tell the truth. I wonder why.
It could be because people have always liked to hear something that involves a plot and characters, and made-up stories are often neater and make more sense. Stories appeal to the imagination. They engage the mind. They grab your attention. They linger in the memory.
Stories are also a way of giving concrete form to abstract truths. They can be used to simplify a difficult concept, as happens when Jesus compares the preaching of God’s word to a farmer sowing seeds. Stories leave pictures in the mind to hang ideas on.
Placing a story in a familiar setting makes the moral or lesson it contains more real to the listener. The story meets listeners half way and enables them to encounter new truths in familiar settings.
At the heart of Jesus’ stories, however, there is always the gospel, the good news of God’s love and forgiveness for those who are needy or have fallen. That’s probably the main reason why people came in such numbers to hear his stories.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your stories and the truths they contain. Amen.
by Richard Hauser, in ‘Living Water for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2001)
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