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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whats in a parable?

So what exactly is in a parable is the question. Some sort of hidden message? Some new revelation that is in secret code? A story that was used to entertain?

Well the answer is found in the definition of the word parable. Simply put it is where our word comparable comes from. The Greek word is made up of two roots. The first one is para and means beside or vicinity of, while the second root is bal-lo, meaning to throw at or toss into. Therefore the literal meaning is to throw two things together side by side for the purpose of comparison or correlation.
Last Sunday we looked at the "parable of the vineyard workers" and discovered what it was all about.
I shared some guidelines for studying parables but wanted to remind everyone about the second one.
Parables are often confusing so people walk away with many ideas of what the meaning was. The confusion comes because of a lack of understanding regarding meaning and application.
Let me explain. When your boss tells you to do a specific task you could draw many applications from his/her comment. Regardless of how the job gets done or why you think the boss wanted you to do this task, at the end of the day you were asked to do a task. These things are all applications that can be drawn from the command. The command it self has only one meaning, do the job.
So it is with parables, although many excellent teachers, teach on the multiple meanings of a parable, there is one core truth that Jesus is trying to communicate. The truth may be different from parable to parable but each parable will have a core truth being taught.
For instance in the parable of the vineyard worker found in Matthew 20:1-16 we find the kingdom of heaven is like a vineyard owner looking for laborers in the town square and could easily make several conclusive applications with just this one thought. The actual meaning here is that the kingdom of heaven is like a vineyard. How? Well Jesus goes on to explain, the point is that all believers are equal regarding eternal life and length of service, quality of service or any other self imposed comparison is merely an attempt at application. When we focus on the application so quickly we stumble plumb over the core truth. All believers are equal before a holy God and those who have been Christ followers longer have no advantage over the rest.
People like to make black and white into gray so they don't have to be pinned down for an explanation. After all safety is the most important. Or maybe not.
My challenge to you is to read scripture with your mind looking for answers and observations that will be ever changing.
Till next time, stay chilled.