Parables! I like parables. Those little word pictures are so efficient at illustrating and shortening the amount of time it takes to explain, to compare, sometimes very complicated or perhaps misunderstood things. It’s a bit like when I was in the USAF and we used initials for description: KP, CO, USAF, TDY, 1505’s, all are shortcuts to explain something larger. Jesus was very fond of parables, using them as a primary technique to share truths about the Kingdom of God. His symbols were really interesting and most often items from daily life: yeast, mustard seed, farmer sowing a crop, buried treasure, a planted grain of seed, a father and son, wheat, a house, coins, bread, birds and flowers, all those and more used to compare the simple with the profound. Many were about the Grace of God, some about the Kingdom and a number about the Judgment of God.
When asked directly by his disciples about why he used parables so often, Jesus said he used them because:
‘You’ve been given insight into God’s Kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understanding flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:
Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they don’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to deal with Me face to face and let Me heal them. (Matthew 13: The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson)
Perhaps Jesus was being a bit optimistic there about them understanding the Kingdom. However, to his disciples, in his private moments with them, Jesus did explain more than in his public ‘stories’. He, in those moments, slowly unpacked the Gospel for them, untangled the knots found in his parables for them. But at the end, even those that he had shared more of the Message with still did not understand the fullness of what was going to happen to him and for some good portion missed the big story contained in what did happen to him.
It’s amazing to me that so many words and stories contained in scriptures have been written to illustrate what seems to me is really one, single, simple Truth. Like his parables that reveal profound Truth, it seems that all of scripture is the simple process of trying to inevitably do one thing: reveal Him. In scripture, all of it considered, appears to be purposed in an attempt of God to reveal Himself to the ‘blockheads’ mentioned above. Jesus is the final word to us; He is the complete revealing. (Heb 1: 1) He is God’s (the Father, Son and Spirit’s) shout to the world ‘Who do you say I am?’ That’s the question that began in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve failed to answer that question correctly, scammed by the suggestion to their hearts that God was holding out on them rather than blessing them. Today, as we struggle to make a way through time with its contrast and conflicts of our lives, still the appropriate question is ‘Who do you say I am?’ Jesus’ life and words show us, express to us, how to answer that question. In Jesus we find the direct, correct image of God the Father. He is the expressed image of the Father. And thank God, now the Spirit has come to reinforce and testify of Jesus. The Spirit is here, present to reveal His Truth to us. Jesus is proof that the answer to ‘who do you say I am’ or any questions we might have is simply: Father! Jesus circles us back to Eden and gives us the Cliff Notes answer to any question for Life: God, who is Love.
The cross was an ugly, hurtful, unfair, disappointing, painful, shameful, hateful process, but it is the pathway to revealing a God that pursues us at the highest price possible. It’s a moment of Trust and Faith in the Father expressed by Jesus and an example for us to believe Father is trustworthy today also. ‘Never the less, not my will but thine’ is Jesus bold declaration of total and complete ‘knowing’ the Father. Jesus places us in the middle of the 23rd Psalm. The 23rd Psalm Father is the Father that’s been revealing Himself all along. Jesus is the complete and full unveiling that was promised from the beginning. Among the first words after His resurrection, Jesus expressed the point of his coming: “…go to my brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and my God, and your God.’” (John 20:17)
It was the heart of God to step into our world from the very beginning, actually before the beginning, before Adam. It was the will of God to come into all our circumstances and be present with us as we experienced the conflicts and confusions of this world. But, how was God to reveal Himself, how to show His great Love for the creature? Though a great gesture, telling of His great love, using words only, would be an incomplete gesture. Man has learned that words are not enough, words are cheap, and, because of our worldly experiences, words alone usually do not convince. However, doing Love, sending Love, showing Love, manifesting Love in the incarnation of His Son would be beyond dispute, would reveal the full commitment of God to be with men (Emmanuel). Well, except for the ‘blockheaded’.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and there’s no other way, no other revealing, no other road to take, no other interpretation, no other knowing God except through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. In fact, Jesus testimony of God’s Love was the purpose of the road all along. The scriptures testify of him, the Spirit witnesses of him. To discover Christ is to discover God with all His will, desires, characteristics and purposes. The days of bone-headedness can be over for any whosoever through the enabling of the Spirit and the Spirit’s illumination of the Son of God, who is Jesus Christ!