Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow.’” vss. 2-3Matthew 13:1-9
According to scripture Jesus regularly made use of parables as he spoke to the crowds who gathered to hear him teach. The form wasn’t necessarily unique to him, but he polished it for regular use. Parables differ from allegories in that they generally have one main point, some particular truth that Jesus was trying to communicate. Often a parable would use imagery that was familiar to Jesus’ largely rural audience. Often brief, they could be subtle and to the point, but not always easily understood. Sometimes even Jesus’ disciples didn’t get the meaning and would be forced to ask him later what he’d been trying to say. He often used parables to describe the kingdom of heaven, a particularly hard concept for folks to get their minds around. Even today we have trouble, and speak almost exclusively of heaven as some future destination. But that’s never what Jesus was describing. He wanted his hearers to know that God’s rule could be seen every day in the most ordinary ways, and that if people had eyes to see, they could catch a glimpse. That’s what makes the parables so fascinating–and Jesus was a master at clothing divine wisdom in his stories of ordinary people and their everyday activities.
Thought for the Day: What’s my favorite parable?