12 February 2023
We’ve skipped a bit in Matthew to land in chapter 13 this week. I’m going to split things up and take our reading in two chunks.
Our reading begins with a series of 3 parables. Now I could tell you the names that the bible gives these parables, but I sometimes wonder that when we are given a particular name for a parable does that affect the way we hear and understand that story? Worth thinking about.
Just to be sure that we all know what a parable is let me share with you a dictionary definition –
A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters.
When Jesus was teaching, he spoke mostly in parables so that as many as possible could understand or get a glimpse of what he was teaching. However, we are told a number of times that Jesus had to explain the parables he used – or was that a literary tool to make sure that those who were reading/listening to the gospel understood the parable correctly? Hmmm?
We’re going to try a bit of this on Sunday morning. Firstly, we’ll read through the 3 parables and have a conversation about what we think they mean and what they might be trying to teach us. Remember that these 3 parables, and the ones preceding them, are giving us examples of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. We’ll try and keep this in mind in our discussions.
Then later on in the service we’ll read Jesus’ explanation of the first parable to his disciples. Did we come up with the same understanding? Did the parable speak to us in the way we hear Jesus explain it?
Matthew’s gospel gathers all these parables together in one place, whereas the other gospels might have these parables as well but not in the same order or timing. What was Matthew trying to teach and draw to the attention of his readers? When you read these parables what do they tell you about the Kingdom of Heaven? Does it affect the way we live today and the way that the church lives? Let’s keep talking!