Throughout Scripture, God is described using many different names: God as king (Psalm 95), shepherd (Psalm 23) and warrior (Exodus 15) to name a few. In Psalm 78, we are presented with God as teacher. In the first four verses of this psalm, the psalmist conveys a message of instruction from God to his people, “hear my teaching” (v1). As a teacher, God’s desire is to inform his people about his nature by reminding them of his praiseworthy deeds and wonders (v4). As the greatest teacher, God knows that only when his people have a true understanding of himself will they be able to understand the truth about themselves and the world. To accomplish this, the psalmist tells us that God teaches using parables (v2), which are teachings clothed in colorful stories, metaphors and analogies.
Consider God’s nature
Several centuries later, a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus began to teach about God’s nature and kingdom. How did he teach? Through parables! In fact, according to Matthew, Jesus did not say anything to his followers without using a parable (Matthew 13:34-35). As a master storyteller, Jesus used parables to teach men, women and children in a variety of different contexts. They were often the primary means by which Jesus engaged these people to consider God’s nature and to make a decision in response. For when God’s nature is revealed by Jesus, the listener must ultimately decide whether to obey or reject God. The parable does not end until this question is answered.
What will you choose?
Today, Jesus is still teaching us through his parables and asking us to make a decision. Will we abide in him, or will we choose to have it our way? This is what makes Jesus’ parables so meaningful to me. You cannot engage them without them ultimately engaging you with the truth about yourself and the world. My prayer is that as a community of Gospel-shaped men and women at Holy Trinity Anglican, we choose to follow Jesus daily.
Director of Trinity Young Adults Ministry