Summary: Jesus used stories to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven. We can learn from His stories, and learn to illustrate the Kingdom to others with stories from our walk with Jesus
Stories; who likes stories? A good story is something you remember. Can anyone recall a story they were told as a child before they went to bed? How about some of the stories you were told around a campfire, out in the woods, with someone holding a flashlight under their chin….ooohhh scary! A good story is makes you ‘feel’ something, it draws you in and you can feel what those IN the story are feeling. The news is very good at this. Think of the stories we have heard about those suffering from the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the children who suffer in Africa from disease and malnutrition. These types of stories bring about an emotional response in us…we hurt because they are hurting.
A good story has memorable characters, catchy phrases, and imagery that we can recall for days, weeks, even years. One of my favourite stories is A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens in 1843; a story of the cruelty of human nature, the stubbornness of man, and the possibility repentance and the start of a new life, even for a man like Scrooge.
Movies from long ago in grainy black and white and today’s 3-D, CGI, motion capture style are all doing one thing, trying to tell us a story, in a way that we will remember it.
We read many stories today in books, or online if so inclined. But years ago, when books were not available, and language was more oral than written, stories were one of the main ways to recall important events, and so stories were told from one generation to another, so that history was not forgotten.
These are all good stories…a GREAT story goes beyond just giving us a feeling or a memory, a great story can actually be life-changing. A great story is one that makes us want to change our behaviour to that of the story-teller, or the people in the story.
I mention the story-teller. There are two kinds of story tellers; those who write them and those who tell them. The one who writes a story, such as the author of a book, has the ability to go over it, edit it, re-write it, and change things until the time they are ready to release it to the public, or publish it. And then we are able to read it and appreciate it.
The one who tells a story…that person has a special opportunity to captivate those who would listen to what they have to say, how they say it, the emphases on certain parts of the story, the emotion that can be seen in their face and in their actions, the tone of voice, the cadence of their words…all these things make for a great story-teller. And the One who tells the greatest stories, the stories I would hope we would all remember, is Jesus Christ.
Jesus used stories to tell people about the Kingdom of Heaven. He told stories that folks could relate to. He compared the Kingdom of God to many things, from mustard seeds to pearls to a wedding feast. He told stories to tell us about how we ought to act towards one another, our neighbours, like the God Samaritan. He used stories to explain evangelism, like sowing seeds. He told stories to show us what love should really be like, like the lost son. And Jesus used stories to talk about the end of time, when we shall all be judged, like sheep and goats. The bible calls these stories parables. These are stories with a purpose; they are intended to teach us a lesson…about life today, what our morals should be like, and about the kingdom of heaven and the life to come.
39 of Jesus’ parables are found in the 4 gospels about His life. I am sure He told many more, but just like not all His miracles were written down for us, I believe that these stories that He told were written so that we might believe in what Jesus had to say, and what He had to teach us through them.
I have printed a list of these 39 and placed it in the bulletin. If you would like a copy, there are more on the back table and it will also be on the website. These were referenced from my bible’s chain index, which listed them by how many are in one, two, or more gospels.
I’d like to read three of Jesus parables for us today. He told these three together, and so I thought we should do the same. Turn in your bible to Luke chapter 15.
Luke 15 (New International Version)
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."