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The Teaching of Jesus: Parables

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 5, 2022 12:01 am

The Teaching of Jesus: Parables

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 5, 2022 12:01 am

Of the many methods that Jesus used in His teaching, He preferred parables most of all. Today, R.C. Sproul demonstrates the significance of Christ's parables and provides us with helpful guidelines for understanding them.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind.

One of the things that captivates our imagination as we examine the life and ministry of Jesus is indeed his teaching not only the content which is extraordinary enough. But the manner and style of teaching that Jesus used his movements often include the use of Jesus views them as riddles to trample confound. Those who oppose the for his disciples.

They were meant to encourage and explain the kingdom of God sends Dr. RC Sproul was about to tell us they are a treasure for those of us who follow Jesus today.

Look in the seventh chapter of the gospel of John we have a brief passage there that I think is interesting in that it gives some insight to the way in which Jesus communicated as a teacher.

The question was being discussed by some of the multitude that followed Jesus regarding his identity and in verse 40 of chapter 7 we read these words. Therefore, many from the crowd when they heard this saying said.

Truly this is the prophet mother said this is the Christ. Some seven will the Christ come out of Galilee has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem where David was. So there was a division among the people because of them know some of them wanted to take him, but no one laid hands on him and then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, why have you not brought him in the officers answered no man ever spoke like this man. On another occasion we read the response of those who were sent to arrest Jesus.

They said of him that this man speaks not as the scribes and the Pharisees, but is one having authority. The word that is translated authority. There is the word ask Pusey, which sometimes is translated authority and other times power and literally the word hasn't somewhat different meaning it has the prefix acts which we know means out of or from and we have the participial form of the verb to be. And so literally what this word ask to see means which is translated authority is being or substance. So in a literal sense when it is said of Jesus that he spoke ask Pusey it means he didn't speak lightly, frivolously, that his words were not insubstantial, but he spoke with the authority of substance. He spoke out of the essence of things very early in chapter 7 Jesus himself had made this remark concerning his own teaching where he said in verse 16, my doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me, and if anyone wills to do his will he show no concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority, but one of the things that captivates our imagination as we examine the life and ministry of Jesus is indeed his teaching not only the content which is extraordinary enough. But the manner and style of teaching that Jesus used, even those who don't embrace Christ as the Messiah, or as the living son of God have spoken admiring terms about his pedagogical skill. Here was a man who was obviously a master teacher and perhaps the thing for which Jesus is most famous was his mastery of the literary form of the parable or talk about that a little bit in a moment, but parables are not as commonplace in Scripture as they may seem to be to us who are so familiar with Jesus. Selection of this method of teaching because he uses this method so often.

Occasionally, we will encounter parables in the Old Testament the most famous of which probably is the parable that the prophet Nathan used when he confronted David about his sin in the New Testament we find many parables of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels. No parables in the gospel of John and not a single parable anywhere else in the New Testament apart from the synoptic Gospels. But not only does Jesus use parables but he uses them abundantly now.

First of all we have to take a moment and asked the question what is a parable and why is a parable called a parable. What's the significance of parables. Why did Jesus speak in parables on the surface it may seem that the answers to those questions would be quite easy.

But on second glance they become more and more complicated. First of all we need to distinguish between a parable and similes and metaphors because they are not the same thing we use similes frequently in our own manner of speech. A simile is something that is like something else we may say so and so is like a helicopter. You always spinning around where he is. That's the use of simile and Jesus makes frequent use of simile to what should I liken this generation and he will say it's like this. It's like that Jesus also made frequent use of metaphors, particularly in the Gospel of John were we have the list of the famous iambs. The IM statements I am the door through which men must enter I am the vine, you are the branches. I am the good shepherd not he obviously was not speaking literally about being a door or being a vine, but he was using figurative language in the form of metaphor.

Another type of speech that he used frequently in his teaching was the use of hyperbole.

Now a hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration that is used to underscore or emphasize an important point.

I remember in the debate over the inerrancy of Scripture one very respected scholar questioned the inerrancy of the Bible and the infallibility of the teaching of Jesus because Jesus on. Speaking of faith. On one occasion spoke of the mustard seed that grows into a huge bushy tree in which he said the mustard seed was the smallest seed and critics have said wait a minute. We know of other varieties of seeds that are microscopic in their size that are in fact smaller than the mustard seed them objectively in terms of reality. The mustard seed is not really the smallest city but here this would be an attack on the trustworthiness and credibility.

Both of Scripture and of Jesus were Jesus plainly using this quite acceptable form of speech elsewhere will find statements in the gospel, such as all Capernaum went out to hear Jesus we speak in the same way a press report may talk about a multitude that gathers to celebrate a world championship in baseball and say the one the victorious team came home from the World Series.

The whole city came out to meet him. Nobody understands that to mean that every man woman and child in every infirm person or invalid actually came out of their houses to greet the returning team that's hyperbole and it's a legitimate form of communicating truth. But I guess I say the most famous form of communication that is related to Jesus is the parable that a parable the word parable again is made up of a prefix par and the bull the end actually the word is a combination sort of the jamming together of this prefix, which means alongside of and the root verb that is the source of the root of this word is the Greek word that means to throw and so literally a parable is something that is thrown along side of something else now St. Augustine when he was teaching his students on the rules of proper biblical interpretation said the three most important rules that must be observed when interpreting a passage from Scripture. Are these three number one context number two context number three context and Augustine assigned this context context context you heard the statement about the three most important things that determine the value of property or real estate, location, location, location so we can say that the three most important elements of dynamic communication or illustration, illustration, illustration, and the principal form of illustration that Jesus used to throw alongside his proclamations and declarations of truth was the parable now parables can be short or parables can be long, we have a tendency to think of parables simply in terms of the lengthy stories such as the parable of the prodigal son or the parable of the good Samaritan, but one can have a very short parable such as if the blind lead the blind. They both fall in the ditch. That's a parable. It's basically one sentence long, but it is a parable and when you notice those shorter, more abbreviated types of parable in the teaching of Jesus, then you will see that the number of parables that are sprinkled through his teaching regions of the school works and not just a handful as we make sometimes supposed now. Often parables take the role of the riddle and they are used in situations of tension and of conflict, and sometimes they become a device or a technique to trap one's opponent in a debate, and Jesus was the master of that you recall when he was engaged in a discussion with the Pharisees concerning their interpretation of the Old Testament law and Jesus had reminded them about the great commandment with also love the Lord thy God with all our heart, the mall, I strengthen all I mind and all that must love your neighbor as yourself. The Pharisees were engaged in a dispute as to who is my neighbor and so they came to Jesus and they said will, who is my neighbor. Jesus could've answered that directly and simply, and said to them well. The guy that lives next door to you or the person that was on your street or could've said everybody in the world is your neighbor, but that's not how he chose to answer the question, what did he do well who is my neighbor and Jason well.

The man went down from Jericho and he fell among thieves, and he goes on to tell the story of the good Samaritan, and when he's finished with that story. The profound illustration of compassion.

He then looks at his opponents and said who acted as a neighbor here so we see that this is the kind of thing that Jesus used in the midst of conflict and tension and of debate. Now one of the most difficult things to deal with with respect to the parables has to do with the somewhat enigmatic statement that is found in Mark's gospel at the time when Jesus introduces one of his most famous parables, the parable of the sower. We know that story of how the sower went out the sewing the seed fell on the ground and in all what happened as a result of that, that after he had pronounced this parable. He said to those who were listening to him. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. And the disciples didn't quite get it. They didn't quite understand the point of this parable and so they came to him and we read in verse 10 of chapter 4 of Mark when he was alone, those around him with the 12 asked him about the parable and he said to them to you. It has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God but to those who are outside all things come in parables so that seeing they may see but not perceive and hearing they may hear and not understand lest they should turn in their sins be forgiven. Now that is really somewhat jarring to our sensibilities is not that Jesus said no. One of the reasons that I use parables to teach is on the one hand, to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of God that I am announcing to you and to those who have ears to hear, but the same time that these parables are used to illustrate and clarify the truths that I'm announcing. There is a double edge sword involved in this technique, because to those who do not have the grace of the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Actually, the parable serves to conceal the truth from them last seeing they may see, and hearing they may hear, does this not remind us of the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament and of the commission of Isaiah. When God consecrated to the task to go and preach this people and saying that seeing they would not see hearing they would not hear lest they repent and be converted, because God had visited his judgment on those people who didn't want to hear his word and his punishment was a kind of poetic justice if you don't want to hear the truth of God. God said okay I'll stop your ears if you don't want to behold my glory, then I'll conceal my glory from you and in a sense God was delivering these hardhearted people over to their own wickedness and so when Christ comes and teaches his parables from the vantage point of the 20th century were we had the benefit of the whole New Testament exposition of the teaching of Jesus and sermon after sermon on the parables of Jesus, we tend to think of the parables as simple little techniques to make things very easy for anybody but that was the original purpose to those who were perishing, whose hearts were closed to the teaching of Jesus. They were unfathomable riddles that they were hearing. They had no idea what he's talking about and even the disciples themselves here didn't fully grasp the significance of this parable, the skull, the parable of the soil or the parable of the sower, depending on the person describing it. They didn't get it until Jesus sat them down and explained the significance and the meaning of it.

Now there's some principles that we need to know whenever we meet parables in the New Testament first one is that a parable normally and I say normally is not an allegory, and the church got herself in lots of trouble historically by trying to interpret the parables as if they were allegories know you are familiar with that particular genre of literature that we call the allegory with Inca hawthorns Young Goodman Brown are perhaps the most famous allegory of all time is bunions, pilgrims progress where every element in the story has some particular symbolic meaning and everything stands for something and the temptation is to look at the parables of Jesus and read them all, as if they were allegories becomes problematic because the parable of the sower has strong elements of allegory within it, and the wicked husbandman is another parable that has elements of allegory unit, but in the main the basic rule of interpreting parables is that most of the parables are delivered with the idea of communicating one central critical point and if you try to find too much hidden in the incidental elements of the story, you'll end up with all kinds of bizarre theories and distortions of the word of God. So we need to be careful about that another thing this been observed about parables is that they tend to follow the universal principle of storytelling of folktales, which is called the rule of three. If you want to know the rule of three in our own culture. Think of the story of the three little bears calmly bears three bears how many beds, three beds, how many chairs, three chairs holiday bowls of porridge three and so everything is set up in these cycles of three and that's what you find in the parable of the sower. Three different kinds of soil in the parable of the prodigal son, you have three main actors in the parable of the good Samaritan. How many people are coming down the street after this person had fallen among thieves.

Three.

But there's also a rule to wear sometimes and folk stories and in parables you have two main characters to represent a contrast or comparison to illustrate a point. Now in the story of the prodigal son you do have three characters, but so much of the tension and conflict in that story is between the two brothers the one who left and wasted, the father's inheritance and the one who remained behind and became fiercely jealous when the father honored the returning son.

So we see that and we see one other principal frequently in the parables of Jesus and that's the principle of comparison that is used with the phrase, how much or, again, the central motif not the only one that the main motif of Jesus parable was the kingdom of God and again and again he would say the kingdom of God is like unto this in the kingdom of God is like unto that. But then he would build these major comparisons, such as the parable of the unjust judge where the unjust judge is set in contrast to the just judgment of Almighty God. And the point of the parable at the end would be something like this. If all worldly wicked, politically corrupt person like this unjust judge will listen to the prayers of this important widow, how much more will your heavenly father who is just listen to your groans and yearnings and prayers. So we see that how much motif.

Watch for when you're reading her this Dr. RC Spruill providing some basic principles to guide us through the parables of Jesus example is helpful to know that a parable isn't normally an allegory. So often we try to make every element of the parable represents something else that principle alone helps us make better sense of Jesus teaching this week on Renewing Your Mind. We are pleased to bring you a sample of doctors ProSeries duster glory. That's his study tour of the entire Bible with 57 lessons in all formatted for Sunday school small group or homeschool curriculum. You can request all of the lessons on eight DVDs. When you give a donation of any amount will also include a disk containing the audio lessons of the series, and a helpful study guide. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can give your gift to make your request online@renewingyourmind.org. By the way, is only through your generous donations that we are able to share teaching series like this one, so we thank you studying the entire Bible from cover to cover, is a daunting task but it doesn't have to be wicked or connect might be a helpful resource for you.

It's an online discipleship community that allows you to study with a group to provide you with the opportunity to access interactive courses from Dr. scroll along with Sinclair Ferguson, Stephen Lawson and others. You can find out more by going to connect.ligula year.org tomorrow.

RC will turn our attention to perhaps the best-known parable that Jesus taught body. If I would've been the prodigal father and I saw my son coming down the street. Maybe I would have been tempted to stand there was a scholar in my face, waiting to see what the story was this ugly goddess wrestled with his for the prodigal son tomorrow. On Renewing Your Mind


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