February 17, 2017

Encouraging: Why Jesus Spoke in Parables

Today, I was feeling discouraged, and God revealed something to me that was extremely encouraging. I've always looked at the parables of Jesus as mainly instructive, but today I realize that they are also meant to be equally encouraging. Based simply on the fact that we can understand God and God's ways in our inner being, and amidst all the problems and difficulties of this fallen world,  Jesus' parables help to distinguish us as spiritual souls in a material world:

"Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."   (Matthew 13: 10-13)

When His disciples asked why he spoke in parables, Jesus highlighted insights into, "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," and the ultimate gift and mystery is to know an eternal relationship with God in the kingdom of God, both now and in eternity. Parables help to remind us that we are actually experiencing the kingdom of God right now, despite our circumstances.

Jesus's answer about parables essentially shows us that he is speaking in a secret code that only people who know God can identify with. The subject of parables helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's as if His parables are a thin veil between the ordinary physical world and the extraordinary spiritual world, and only those with the inner indwelling Holy Spirit can pass in and out between these two worlds of understanding. This does not mean that there are no exceptions when true Christians will fail to understand parables or spiritual principles, but this is the general situation. And so we can be extremely encouraged by Jesus' parables in this light.

"Don't be discouraged when people misunderstand you, be encouraged that you understand God." 

 The Parable of the Tares contrasts how people with spiritual insight and new life will live among those without these. And this parable encourages us, that we should not be surprised or discouraged when we try to present spiritual principles or values and others don't understand them or outright reject them, or reject us. People will sometimes reject us personally simply because we embrace and request what we consider to be just, fair and helpful principles for relationships and for all of society that are soundly based on God's cohesive word. But when others reject us personally, God comforts us deeply. This is a part of the kingdom of God.

The Parable of the Tares:

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
(Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)

Paradoxical Truth is Translogical

The subject of parables leads us to another important point, that the knowledge Jesus shared in parables is beyond the knowledge of the mere physical world and the Aristotlean logic that our physical world is mainly based on. With Solomon, most of his parables applied to the tangible physical world, but with Jesus, many of his sayings have a paradoxical meaning that only applies on a spiritual level, as a spiritual principle that we cannot account for with our limited principles of logic. This is similar to quantum logic, wherein the Law of Identity seems to basically disappear in quantum physics, when the line between physical matter and spacious energy disappears. This parable of eternal life is paradoxical and does not make very much sense in a materialistic sense, but it makes complete sense according to spiritual intuitions:

"… whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life…  shall find it."  (Matthew 16:25)

St. Augustine  showed that the distinction between "wheat" and "tares" also runs through the Church as an invisible trait

“O you Christians, whose lives are good, you sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! The harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. ... I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.”[6]

Martin Luther emphasized the moral influence of the Church in society, and we are called "peculiar people" in scripture, because our values and actions represent God's good character, though the world, in general, doesn't understand the basis of our ethics:

"The church must be reminded that it is not the master, or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state."

Peter Kreeft encourages the Church to celebrate the paradoxical nature of being in the world, but not being of the world

"The church is: a conspiracy of love for a dying world, a spy mission into enemy occupied territory ruled by the powers of evil; a prophet from God with the greatest news the world has ever heard, the most life changing and most revolutionary institution that has existed on earth." - Peter Kreeft

Tags: famous paradoxes of Jesus, why Jesus used parables, purpose of parables, inspiring parables, Jesus' paradoxes, inspiration, joy, encouragement, happiness, encouraging Bible verses, encouraging words, wisdom,

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