Thursday, July 10, 2014

Clearing up Confusion

What is a "Parable"?

Definition: "At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought." (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom , New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961, p. 5)

We might think that Jesus spoke in parables to make it easier for people to understand his message. According to the Gospels, however, he surprisingly does NOT expect everyone to understand them! This is clearly expressed in Matthew 13:10-17:

10 Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them [the crowds] in parables?"
11 He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' (cf. Isa 6:9-10)

There were many times when His listeners didn’t understand Jesus’ sayings as we can plainly see in this particular parable but also in many instances in the Gospel writings.  And every time they didn’t understand, Jesus explained further to help clarify His message to all or to the Apostles alone.  For example, Jesus makes sure the Apostles understood His parable before moving on to the next when He asked them if they understood the parable of the Net.  He asked: 51 Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.  “Yes,” they replied.”

 In instances when they didn’t understand, the Apostles asked Him to elaborate, to explain as we see in Matt 13 verse 36 where the Apostles ask: “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He then goes on to explain the parable further.

We can easily show many instances where Jesus spoke in parables in terms that confused His listeners but in every case He either continued to explain Himself until they understood or the Apostles went to Jesus and asked Him to explain His saying further.

This is why we must reject the Protestant argument that Jesus would allow His listeners to turn away from Him simply because they misunderstood His teaching on His Flesh being the Bread of Life in Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.  That we must eat His flesh and drink His Blood to have eternal life was not a parable, metaphor or simply symbolic language because this would mean that  Jesus would have allowed His listeners to turn away from Him on a misunderstanding which would make Him a terrible teacher, something He never did in any other time during His ministry.  It would mean that in this one instance when His listeners didn’t understand would be allowed to leave without a word of explanation to them or His Apostles.  No, Jesus spoke literally when He said that we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood to have eternal life.

God Bless

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