Jesus shared the meaning of the Kingdom by using parables. Ever wonder why Jesus didn’t just come out and say it? Why hide the message in stories that sometimes leave us with more questions than answers?
McLaren’s insight into Jesus’ parables helps those of us who have wished that Jesus would have just come out and said what he meant. The benefit of a parable, he says, is that they “entice their hearers into new territory.” He explains further:
With a clear and easy explanation, hearers can listen and achieve understanding and then go on their way, independent of the teacher. But when a parable confounds them, it invites them to ask questions, so they continue to depend on the teacher himself, not just their independent understanding of his words (pg. 45-46).
One of the most important points of this book is that the message of Jesus is hidden, not only in his parables, but also within those of us who follow him, no matter our denominational or political background. It can be easy to assume that my perspective is the only one in which the truth can be found. However, the gospel is hidden in all who are being transformed by the Spirit, even Democrats, Republicans, Catholics, Southern Baptists and Episcopals; each one of us a living parable, full of God’s message of transformation.
So Jesus told about his message with parables, demonstrated it with miracles, and then validated it with his death and resurrection. Is it any wonder that he described discipleship as a narrow, difficult way? I can’t calculate or figure out Jesus’ message completely, but once I accept it, I am brought close to him as my Teacher, my Friend, and my Lord.
Though it is a little longer than I think was necessary, I recommend The Secret Message of Jesus. It will challenge your assumptions and put the gospel close in front of you for a very personal examination, leaving you with a desire to let Jesus initiate radical change in your everyday life.
Use this link to buy it at Amazon.com.