Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jesus Used Parables to Teach. Why? (A Reflection on Mark 4:1-2)

Again Jesus began to teach beside Lake Galilee.
The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it.
The boat was out in the water, and the crowd stood on the shore at the water’s edge.
He used parables to teach them many things
” (Mark 4:1-2,

Understand that as you read this Jesus didn’t have access to chalkboards, PowerPoint slideshow, live video, audio recording or all other sophisticated teaching aids. He just used whatever around Him. I admire Him for being a Master at using objects available as tools in His teachings. He sometime pointed at ordinary fig trees and gave lessons to teach the people. He pointed to sheep, water, grain, farmers, bread, the Temple and other physical objects as illustrations of spiritual values. He even knew how to avoid large crowd from crushing Him by “got into a boat” – and at the same time this position (see picture above) can provide a good echoing sound system to the large crowd! Brilliant!

Here we read Jesus “used parables to teach them many things.” What is parable? A parable, in the simplest meaning, is a simple story drawn from ordinary nature or everyday life which conveyed spiritual truth. A parable is like a story to make a comparison (Jesus always do this). Why Jesus used parables? Because most people just like you and me today have closed minds to many spiritual things. The people at that time were illiterate and most of them only received their knowledge of the Scripture from the synagogue. We on the other hand, are often being spoon feed by everyone or anyone else that speak at the pulpits. They need to hear more but we hear too much. Thus, both effects may cause instead of having critical, analytic and open minds, we become closed mind and often not thinking. Because of this, parable serve well in communicating and understanding truth – verbal and images – that make people think, imagine and respond.

I find that parable (instead of direct doctrinal teachings) is very interesting, down-to-earth, thought-provoking, and refreshing. It is also accessible, powerful and memorable. Here I learned 3 important lessons from Jesus on how to communicate the Good News based on His used of parables in His teachings: Firstly, Jesus taught me to tell the truths in simple-ordinary everyday language. In order to do this, I need to imitate His examples. He knew the people and places around Him very well. Secondly, Jesus taught me to engage people’s hearts and minds to response to the Good News message. Examples and questions. Prayer and persuasion. Thinking and feeling. Reality and imagination. And lastly, Jesus taught me to maximize the use of common knowledge, daily news and the Scripture. Try to avoid or minimize the use of massive technology tools.

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