Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Too simple to be satisfying?

Matthew 13 contains a number of pretty well known parables, starting with the parable of the sower. 

We probably think of parables as (generally) pretty simple little stories that are not too complicated.....  This is probably true for the most part BUT it would seem that there is far far more to them than meets they eye. We would do well to dwell on them for longer than it takes us to merely gain a superficial understanding of what they are saying.

Why do I say this?

The final verse of Matt 13 gives us the clue:
“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’”
Matthew 13:34-35 NIVUK

This is dynamite!

These 'simple little stories' contain truths ".....hidden since the creation of the world.’!

Surely this qualifies them for a prayerful re-read? 

Most of them are parables about the Kingdom which means we are reading truth that give us Kingdom insight that no one before Jesus had even begun to grasp. The pursuit, practice and application of these truths in our lives and the life of our communities has life and community changing capability.

But, let's not assume such power lies buried in complicated layers of hidden meaning that requires human scholarship and immense brain power to figure out. Quite the opposite in fact. This is how religious leaders have hidden Gods word from ordinary people for generations - robbing them of life challenging & life changing Kingdom encounters. 

No, Jesus told simple stories to ordinary people and 'hid the meaning in plain sight'. These Kingdom truths had remained hidden not because they were too hard to find or understand but because they were so everyday and simple that people almost thought 'that can't be right, it's too easy, there should be more to it than that'! 

Their eyes, ears and hearts missed the obvious that was right in front of them and went off searching for something that was 'a more satisfying understanding'. 

It's a bit like the king in the old testament story who was told that his leprosy would be cured if he would simply dip himself in the Jordan river. He was incensed and nearly missed out on life changing healing because the method was too simple for him, not to his liking - he had expected something more 'elaborate'.  (2 Kings 5:1-19)

Fortunately (for him) he had wise and simple counsel who said 'just go and do it'

Let's re-read the parables and ask the Holy Spirit to show us the simple truths that are there in plain sight and to enable us to apply them and make them part of our personal and community Kingdom experience.