There is no question that storytelling, while one of the most ancient art forms, is still one of the greatest and most effective means of communication. Stories capture the attention of people in all stages of life. In fact someone has said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in this world.” Stories help us to process life, to use our imaginations, and to share in experiences we could never have on our own. From the classroom to the boardroom, from the homeless shelter to the mansion, well-told stories have the power to change both hearts and minds.
Perhaps these are just a few of the reasons Jesus often communicated through simple stories we call parables. He wanted his listeners to begin to understand and visualize what the Kingdom of Heaven was really like and to grasp spiritual realities in concrete ways. As the disciples, crowds, and Jewish leaders listened to Jesus’ parables, the meaning of them was often not obvious, so Jesus would spend time explaining them to His disciples and those “who had ears to hear”. When we read these same parables centuries later, we, too, need to listen with open ears and minds to the things the Holy Spirit would teach us through them. Keeping in mind the setting in which Jesus told the parable and looking at the heart of the story rather than every little detail often helps us begin to grasp the point or truth that is being illustrated. As Jesus often said to those who were teachable, “Consider carefully what you hear!”
Some things do not ever change. There is still a big continuum of response to this man called Jesus and to the stories He told, isn’t there? From antagonist to supporter, from doubter to believer, from self-satisfied to curious, from totally closed to open-minded. Where would you say you are on this spectrum?