The author Rob Bell reminds us that Bible stories aren’t just about characters from history. Bible stories are our stories. In some way, God is talking to you, to me, to all of us through the accounts in the Bible.
Jesus now seems to rely on parables as his chief means of getting his point across. A definition from Sunday school says that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. When Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven, he’s talking about a change in the world that lies before us, a radical change—at least to those people sitting by the lake. Something physical, made of dust, will become something . . . more.
How do you explain the ineffable to the people gathered by the lake and to all of us through the many generations that follow? You use story. That’s why stories are sacred. Reducing them to mere history trivializes them. These stories live, even today, right here and now, and they help us recognize glimpses of the kingdom when they come shining through.
Until now, the people haven’t understood Jesus’ mission as the Messiah, and so he brings them along carefully, slowly. It’s a profound message. I’ve heard commentators suggest that Jesus used parables not to illuminate but to conceal the truth from unbelievers. After all, they argue, why would people suddenly understand Jesus when he spoke in parables if they didn’t understand when he spoke plainly?
I think Jesus meant to be heard, then and now. We’re to keep reading them, exploring them, and praying about them. Again, there’s more here than we see on the surface. The surface is dust. Beyond is spirit. The stories he told are about us. Even more, they’re love stories: the stories of the powerful and eternal love between Creator and created.
God of love, may we hear your story of everlasting love today and always. Lead us to deeper understanding. Amen.
Genesis 25 marks the beginning of the narrative of Jacob’s life. The theme that stands out in starkest relief is the election of Jacob to be the heir to the promise—Jacob, who has no claim to be the heir except that which the grace of God bestows. Psalm 25 re ects a general sense of alienation. Yet the psalmist expresses con dence in following God’s paths and truths. Paul sets out two polarities in Romans 8: those who “live according to the flesh and those who “live according to the Spirit,” a cosmic duality related to the rule of sin and the rule of God. The parable of the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13 is an object lesson in the mysterious grace of God.
• Read Genesis 25:19-34. When in your life have you experienced favoritism from a parent, friend, coworker, or boss that created division?
• Read Psalm 119:105-112. The psalmist promises to follow God’s law every day in every aspect of his life—despite his circumstances. When did you last renew and affirm your commitment to God through daily obedience?
• Read Romans 8:1-11. How have you attempted to fill the “God-shaped” hole in your life?
• Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23. What kind of soil are you? How bountiful a harvest do you produce for God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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