Matthew 13

13 Feb

10The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

Brad Young’s take on the parables of Jesus:

One-third of Jesus’ teaching is in parable form. If we misunderstand his parables,
we misunderstand a significant portion of his teaching.

The parables take the abstract world of spiritual values and enable us to visualize
them in concrete terms. For instance, Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God is of
inestimable value. He makes this point with the parables of the Pearl of Great Price
and the Treasure Hidden in a Field.

The parable is a mini-drama. The scenes of the parable are like the scenes of a play.
One must not become so interested in the various details of the parable that one
misses the main message.

Interpretation
A parable is a picture, an allegory, but we must be careful not to over-allegorize.
For example, note the way Augustine (354-430 A.D.) interpreted the Parable of the

Good Samaritan:
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho” — Adam
himself is meant. “Jerusalem” is the heavenly city of peace, from whose
blessedness Adam fell. “Jericho” means the moon and signifies our
mortality because it is born, waxes, wanes and dies. “Thieves” are the
devil and his angels. “Who stripped him,” namely of his immortality;
“and beat him” by persuading him to sin…. The “priest and Levite”
who seeing him, passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the
Old Testament, which could profit nothing for salvation…. The “inn” is
the Church, where travelers returning to their heavenly country are
refreshed after pilgrimage. The “morrow” is after the resurrection of the
Lord…. The “innkeeper” is the Apostle [Paul]…. (Quaestiones
Evangeliorum II, 19)

Although Augustine’s interpretation is ingenious, it hides the message Jesus desired
to communicate.

A parable is not the spiritual reality the parable-teller is trying to portray. It is a
representation of that reality, a shadow of the substance. One discovers points of
contact between the reality and the picture with which it is portrayed, but the
picture is not the reality.

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