Thursday: Christ’s Creative Legacy
avatar

After the record of Christ’s ministry is completed, the telling of parables seems to have disappeared from Scripture. What explains this phenomenon? Certainly the largest remaining segment of the New Testament centers around Paul. Fourteen New Testament books have been attributed to Paul, and nearly half of Luke’s historical narrative in Acts revolves almost exclusively around Paul, as well. Though he didn’t use stories in the way that Jesus did, Paul still made considerable use of metaphors, similes, and other creative devices (see Rom. 7:1-6, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 2 Cor. 5:1-10). Though Paul was no storyteller, Paul’s presentations were neither boring nor without color. Stylistic differences between Christ’s public discourse and Paul’s obviously exist, but both exhibit considerable expressive creativity.

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Other New Testament writers demonstrate a somewhat closer affinity to Christ’s use of parables. Jesus’ brother James wrote, Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring (James 2:2, NIV) to begin a narrative lesson. Yet, neither Christ’s brother nor any other disciple utilized stories as extensively as did Christ. Simile and symbolism, however, are widespread. He will pass away like a wild flower (James 1:10, NIV). Take ships as an example (James 3:4, NIV). Peter’s vision (Acts 10) assumed symbolic form. Symbolic narratives shape significant portions of the book of Revelation. When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman (Rev. 12:13, NIV).

Select a couple of the following texts and identify the metaphors within them. What are the various messages contained within these verses? What imagery is used to convey the message? Acts 10:9-16, James 3:3-12, Rev. 12:7-17, 18:9-20, 19:11-16.

However expressed, the principle remains the same: metaphors, similes, parables, allegories, and other examples of creative language enable us to communicate in an understandable manner. Building upon the listener’s experiences, Christ and His disciples used comparisons and illustrations that stimulated an understanding of truth. We should, when appropriate, not be afraid to do the same.

Share Button

Comments

Thursday: Christ’s Creative Legacy — 7 Comments

  1. In Biblical times there were only two communication media; the written word, and the spoken word. If Christ was here today he would no doubt use the Internet and various visual media to present the gospel. The interesting thing for us is that most of these new media are available to us without a lot of effort on our part. You can even make a movie on an iPhone if you want to. It probably would not be a Cecile B DeMille classic but it could still be effective.

    I hope that this discussion of metaphors extends our appreciation of the usefulness of creative expression of the gospel. For quite some time I have been involved in visuals in church and have become familiar with the power of a simple idea expressed visually. Maybe we could arrange a share on Vimeo for that. Something to think about!

    Like(9)
  2. This lesson shows how important it is to present the gospel in a way that appeals to the intellect to elicit a positive emotional response from the listener.

    Like(9)
  3. To direct a message where the most tender mind can receive it is special gift. This method was deliberately used by Jesus as an example to teach that the mind which is surrendered to Him leads to tenderness, and compassion, and a great love for all people.

    Like(3)
  4. 14.Mat 12:23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
    Mat 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. It was after this encounter with the church leaders , that Christ began to speak in parables , the world history is presented in symbolic revelation, both civil and religious. The reason they were portrayed by symbols is the same as that which caused Christ to teach by parables. "And the disciples came, and said unto Him [Christ], Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,the truth has always been hid from the wise and prudent, to them it is not given." (Matt. 13:10, 11.) "But the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." (Dan. 12:10.) "The chief purpose of teaching by parables is that the truth may be revealed to God's children and at the same time concealed from His enemies.... For this same reason the prophecies that described the great antichristian powers and their work down to the end of time had to be clothed in symbolic and parabolic language to insure their preservation." -- "Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly," p. 33. Second Quarter, 1932. "Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption." -- "The Acts of the Apostles," p. 14

    The parables and the prophecies are our road map to the kingdom.

    Like(5)
    • There are at least three kinds of audience Jesus had. Those who listen to know the truth. Those who were looking for fault in His words so that He can capture Him. And those who were there as spectators.

      Those who were seeking the truth could easily understand His parables but His parables made it easy to hide the truth from His enemies.

      Jesus way of discipling is not spoonfeeding. Our first memory text started with the words, SEARCH the Scripture... It does not simply say, READ the Scriptures. Understanding of the Word of God is given only to those who are committed to know the truth and dedicated to God. John 8: 47

      Like(8)
  5. I like what Maurice was suggesting. I know that there are many creative ways available for each of us to share the Good News!! We can all do our part. As one example, we may not have a winning video that goes viral, bringing thousands to Christ. Still, we can make little slide shows or videos that plant seeds with those who do happen to come across them on the internet. Whether we use the latest technology or just use words or acts of kindness with an individual, we can relate the Good News to daily life in word pictures and creative methods, attracting others to Jesus!!

    Like(8)
  6. Jesus used many different ways of teaching, depending on what the situations most effective way called for. He was well known throughout
    Galilee,Jerusalem.Judea,Decapolis even Syria because of His ability to heal. Thousands followed and listened to His sermons. Not all for the same reason, but He knew how to reach them all. Is it important that a parable may have been an allegorical comparison? I think not. It was used as a moral lesson and had served Jesus' purpose. Jesus had the ability to know peoples thoughts and hearts. One of the biggest problems that Jesus had to deal with, was the Jewish leaders threats and accusations from their fear of losing their positions of authority. Jesus used what ever source was the most affective to counter these lies.

    Like(0)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.