On the Parables

Daily Meditation for November 15, 2018

Matthew 13

All throughout this chapter we see Jesus speaking to His disciples in parables. Unlike one lesson that I have heard taught, the parables were not given to make the things of the kingdom easier to understand; to the contrary, Jesus spoke in parables to make it harder, to disguise His spiritual teachings from those undiscerning and hardened hearts.

But, it’s important to note that He didn’t do this so that only the “elite and intellectual” could understand. In fact, like all things in the faith, it is those very people, filled with the pride of human wisdom, who are unable to discern His teachings. It is the simple, the humble, who approached Him and asked what He meant. And He replied, “to you it has been given to know.” Not because they were these special, elect people, but because they were willing to humble themselves and say, “Jesus, I don’t understand. What does this mean?” He was willing to give the meaning of the teachings to those who were receptive to the meaning of them, not as they perceive them, but as He meant them.

See, Jesus uses the parables to open the eyes of those who seek the truth; using those truths to produce the fruits of righteousness in our lives. Understanding the parables does not require a Master’s degree, or a certain score on an IQ test; rather it requires the humility to admit that we don’t know something, and the heart willing to receive the answer in spite of earthly concerns. It requires this sort of spiritual enlightenment that comes from true faith.

In the parables, Jesus uses things which we can relate to; and uses those very things to draw us in beyond the images, opening the doors to the kingdom of Heaven. We should never seek to comprehend the parables through human wisdom, which will inevitably be corrupted by human temptation to selfishness and greed. It’s not unheard of for a teacher to read into the parable of the Good Samaritan that it has nothing to do with helping those in need. I’ve heard a pastor tell me that when Jesus said “whatsoever you have done for the least of these, you’ve done for Me,” that He meant absolutely nothing about feeding the hungry, or visiting prisoners, or clothing the naked, or caring for widows, that there was a “spiritual meaning” associated; thereby interpreting it so that with a clear conscience we could walk past a homeless beggar on the way to a Bible study.

So, instead of reading the parables through human wisdom, we should instead look to the ways that the Lord has given us to understand the things of the Lord. We should read the parables through spiritual eyes, entreating the Lord to open the eyes of our mind to understand. We should always look to them through prayer, heeding the teachings of the fathers of the Church, of two thousand years of anointed men who were willing to die to preserve the integrity of the Church. We should approach the parables, not with equations and formulae in mind, but rather spiritually. We should find what each is saying, and what it says about the kingdom of heaven and of His expectations for us, and then respond in kind.

We should allow the parables to draw us beyond the gates of this world, laying aside whatever attachments we have to things here, whatever we presume to know about them, and allow them instead to draw our hearts into the very reality of the kingdom of God.

May the peace of the Lord be with you all, my beloved family.

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