We all love stories. Great stories work across culture and time. They don’t simply engage and entertain; they also communicate a significant message and make an impact. Over the next month, we’ll be looking at some of Jesus’ parables, perhaps some of the most famous stories in history.
Jesus used parables to communicate deep truths in simple ways. Parables were sometimes extended similes. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Luke 13:19), or a net cast in the sea (Matt 13:47). Such parables communicated spiritual truths, using illustrations that his audience were familiar with.
There were other parables that went much deeper. On the surface, they seem harmless and inoffensive. But as you think about them, they get behind your defences. A common feature of these types of parables is that they have a sting in the tail; a message that you were not expecting. They confront your assumptions, challenge your priorities, and target your spiritual complacency.
Whilst the parables that we’ll be looking at might seem very familiar to us (the parables of the good Samaritan, the shrewd manager, the prodigal son, and the persistent widow), we’ll soon rediscover their timeless potency.
More significantly, we’ll be confronted by the man behind these stories and what it looks like to follow him. Normally, our habit is to domesticate Jesus; to make him meek and mild. We want a Jesus who is always comforting and affirming, familiar and safe. However, the Jesus behind these parables doesn’t communicate a comfortable Christianity. He’s an extraordinary king, who rules an extraordinary kingdom, and he calls on his subjects to serve him with their all.