Archive for May 23rd, 2008

The Parable of the Word(s)

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Today’s scripture: Luke 8:4-8 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

When I was a little kid in Sunday School, I was taught that Jesus used parables to help us understand what he was saying — and that was pretty much my entire understanding of them until just a few years ago.

It is true that parables illustrate concepts in a way that are more timeless and less likely to get messed up in translation than mere written directives. But they are more than that. They are hidden treasures that we can unlock when we have the right key.

You see, there can be a problem with repeatedly hearing the stories of Jesus’ ministry in our time. After hearing the same thing a number of times, we tend to “tune it out” and it just becomes background noise. This was probably not the case in ancient cultures where words had more value. In the case of ancient Hebrew, it was believed that words had a type of life all their own and you would “speak into being” that which you said. But in our time of constant bombardment of ads, music, news, email and pop-ups, we have learned to ignore a large portion of what we read and hear. We have to, or we’d be overwhelmed.

Here is where the second function of parables becomes important. Parables have the power to keep their meanings hidden until the time is right for each of us. Then, the meaning will be fresh and have a much greater impact. I’m going to estimate that I have read or heard the Parable of the Sower in excess of 100 times in my life. From a pretty early age, I could probably even tell you what it was about, but it would be some time until I could tell you what it meant. In fact, part of its meaning was probably lost on me until I started studying it in preparation for writing this devotional. That combined with the timeless nature of the parable itself makes for a very personal “Christ meeting” experience.

One of the ways I’ve found helpful to get meaning from Scripture is to take a passage, and after meditation and prayer, write it out in my own words. I’m going to show you my attempt as an example, but yours will probably look very different, and that’s ok. For me to fully connect with this passage, I had to put it into a modern day setting. See what you think:

The Word of God is all around us; in church, in our Bible reading, on television, even in the email that gets forwarded from all over. These Words fall over us like rain (or like seeds thrown by a sower).

Some of these Words fell on Bob, but he didn’t listen because he had been taught as a young man by his church that you can’t be gay and Christian, and since he couldn’t stop being gay, he stopped believing.

Some Words fell on Irene. She listened because she was in church and had nothing else to do, but she soon forgot them when she got home and had to start working on a paper for her class on Monday.

Some Words fell on Thomas, and he took them to heart because they really spoke to him. He even started changing because of them, but before long the demands of his job and his wife and kids took priority, and he eventually forgot about them.

The Words also fell on Cindy. They inspired her to seek out even more Words, and to connect with others who had heard the Words themselves. She started spending 15 minutes a day praying about the Words she heard and it wasn’t long before her entire life had shifted and she was never the same again.

Thought for the day: Re-write this parable in your own words and see if you discover any hidden meanings or new insight.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Be still and know… is proudly powered by WordPress.