(30) Short Stories and Big Significance
Jesus responded with harsh words and condemnation for those who tried to condemn him last week, so… is it okay to ask questions? Is it okay to complain? What’s the difference between legitimate questions (of which the disciples must surely have had many) and wrongful complaints (of which the Scribes and Pharisees had plenty)?
Now we come to Jesus teaching in parables. There are lots of theories about why so much teaching is done in parables:
1. They were a traditional teaching tool.
2. They allow truth to be conveyed without condemnation.
3. They make the listeners think.
4. They hide the truth from those who will condemn the speaker (e.g. from those earlier questionners?)
5. They slide the truth into the listener’s brain under the guise of a simple story…
Why do you think Jesus used parables so much?
1. Do you find reading them helpful?
2. Do you find them helpful when trying to convey truth to children? To adults?
3. Do you know of any other type of “teaching stories”? How do they compare with parables?
The parable of the sower is probably very familiar, though the actions of a sower may be less familiar to us:
1. Read Matthew 13:1-2 How do you imagine the scene? How is it different from last week’s scene?
2. Read Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:1-9, Luke 8:4-8. Can you relate to the story? Why, or why not?
3. Read Matthew 13:10-15, Mark 4:10-12, Luke 8:9-10. What’s missing in the Mark and Luke versions?
4. Read Matthew 13:14-15, Mark 4:25. Does this sound fair? Unfair? Like a punishment? Like a natural progression?
5. Read Isaiah 6:9-10. Does God make them unable to understand as punishment or as protection (or both)?
6. Does God not want to heal them? (Read Isaiah 6:11-13)
7. Read Matthew 13:16-17. How does this make us feel?
Jesus goes on to explain the parable—an explanation that presumably makes it easier for us to understand other parables too.
1. Read Matthew 13:18-23, Mark 4:13-20, Luke 8:11-15. What differences do you spot in the different versions?
2. Looking honestly at your life, when might each of these different types of ground have described you?
a. Faith life falls at the wayside of real life?
b. Problems squeeze the life out of faith?
c. Temptation uproots a plan to be faithful?
d. Fruitfully following Christ?
3. Does the parable tell us we’re okay, condemn us for not being okay, or provide a way for us to draw closer to God?