The word parable is a transliteration of the Greek word "parabole" (para-bow-LAY), and comes from two Greek words, "para" (translated "beside") and "ballein" (translated "to throw"). Literally, the word parable means "to throw beside," or "to place beside", or "to place together for the purpose of comparing, or making a comparison." They can usually be identified by the use of the word "like," as in Jesus' statement, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed," or "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven" (Matt 13:31,33). In these examples, Jesus was comparing the kingdom of heaven to the attributes or characteristics of a mustard seed and to leaven (yeast). Some have defined the word parable as "a story by which something real in life is used as a means of presenting a moral thought." Others have said a parable "puts the known next to the unknown so that we may learn." They are usually a story or a narrative taken from nature or from everyday human experiences. Perhaps the simplest definition of all is that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
While all the parables of the Master fire the imagination of the reader, the one (on closer scrutiny) that symbolically encapsulates the entire Biblical history is good ole "Good Samaritan" parable...
Beginning with Garden of Eden it would reflect the Fall before coursing its way to Redemption finally it would end with a heady climax of Second coming. So what are the lessons that can be gleaned from this most quoted parable of the Master? Since this parable was narrated in Capernaum the name of the town beginning with the alphabet C, we shall in the course of this message use sub-headings all beginning with the letter C. By the way, this town beside the Sea of Galilee virtually served as the headquarters of our Lord's Ministry after his rejection at Nazareth. If the "Preparation" ("growing in favour with man and God" Luke 2:52) and "Passion" (Matt 26-27) parts of Jesus' Ministry can be associated with Nazareth and Jerusalem respectively, Capernaum is intrinsically linked to His "Proclamation" (Matt 4:23-25) ministry, when His popularity touched its peak.
"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus..." ( See Luke 10:25a)
The setting was somber. The ever growing popularity amongst the masses of the humble, miracle-doing Carpenter of lowly Nazareth was not going down well with the Religious leaders of Jesus' day, who openly craved fame (Matt 23:5-7). Both in preaching and in performing miraculous signs, the One calling Himself the Son of God, stood head and shoulders above contemporary Orthodox teachers. Add to this, Jesus' radical (contextually that is) teaching of looking beyond this World to a far better one at a time when traditional Jewish teaching was all about obeying the Almighty to secure the blessings of Earthly Land flowing with milk and honey and the scene of Jesus' opponents sharpening their swords both literally and figuratively "to take him on" becomes complete. What better way to bring down Jesus' popularity then by publicly leaving him clueless with some tricky questions. Thus the poser all with a clinical mind of chess player intending to checkmate his opponent...
"'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'" (Luke 10:25b)
History keeps getting repeated. Do not we see a envious, conspiring Cain in this question? Even literally were not the Orthodox Jewish teachers in a way "Elder" brothers of Christ, having been in "spiritual business" for a longer time, then this radical new entrant from Nazareth?
The USP about our Lord's defense tactics was to often throw the ball back into the court of his critics, by asking them some searching counter questions. So there it comes...
"'What is written in the Law?' he replied. 'How do you read it?'" (Luke 10:26)
This leads us to the third "C" headed Sub-title "Concise commandments" upon which, we shall focus upon in the next part of this Series...
Prayer: Father, Thy Word is a veritable treasure, more we keep digging into Thy Word, more we get the treasures. We make the prayer of the Psalmist ours too "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." In Jesus' Name. Amen.
J and SM Ministries
(To access the rest of the "It's 'All' There" mini-series, please click here.)