By Dale Andrews
"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;" "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field." These two phrases from Matthew 13 are the introductory statements to two of Jesus' parables. Jesus knew the limitations of direct statement so he spoke using every literary device practiced in his day. His parables are among the first things children learn in Bible class, after they get a glimpse of the overall story of the life of Christ. In adulthood those "simple" stories grow to be the master tools for solving the most complex riddles of living.
The power of the parable is found in what is said and especially in what is not said. Jesus gave few explanations of any length to His parables (or the writers condensed the applications so that a great deal is still unanswered). Jesus disciples were often baffled by his parables, but rarely did He try to answer all of their questions or fill in all of the gaps. This is one thing I appreciate most about the Lord: He doesn't condescendingly explain everything away, but trusts us to come to the necessary insights through our own struggles with his stories.
C.H. Dodd, commenting on Jesus' use of parables, says His parables leave, "the mind in sufficient doubt about their precise application to tease it into active thought." I hate stories with no mystery; I despise when someone tells me the end of a movie I have not seen; I deplore when an author treats me as a simpleton or when a speaker tells me only the cut and dried conclusions of his own personal opinions. I am thrilled when I don't always know why or when life takes the novel and bizarre turn. I am euphoric when I must play the game of life by faith in a universe of unpredictables.
I like what Jesus didn't say; I love the silence and the positive expectancy of the unanswered. In it I'm invited into His experience of positive uncertainty since He too was a man in a mysterious world.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun00.