Mark 4 v 1 - 2

We can note here that Jesus was always prepared to use new methods to get the Good News across. He is back teaching by the lakeside instead of in the synagogue, partly because of issues with the religious leaders and partly because of the numbers of people wanting to see and hear Him. One of the advantages in speaking in the open air (and try to imagine the scene) was that He could use visual reference points for His talks. In the background would have been a man planting seeds on his ground and He used that scene to being home spiritual truths. Jesus would frequently use the method of speaking in parables. This word literally means: 'something thrown beside something else', so a comparison. Why did Jesus choose this method?

1. He chose it to make people listen. There would have been many people who would have stayed rooted to the spot until Jesus stopped speaking, but there would also have been passers by who would have been listening as they walked past and stopped if they heard something of interest. We had an outdoor service on the Bearfield lawn in the Summer and a group of three people came and stayed because they heard the music as they were walking past to go to the playground!

2. This method was something with which Jewish teachers and audiences were completely familiar. Read 2 Samuel 12 v 1-7 and there you have a perfect example of a parable. Rabbis were often said to speak one third in exposition, one third in legalese and one third in parables.

3. By using this method, Jesus made it possible for His listeners to understand abstract ideas. We most easily recognise beauty when we see it in someone or something rather than in discussing its nature; we recognise a good deed when we see one. When the New Testament talks about faith it gives Abraham as a concrete example of a man of faith.

4. Parables compel people to think for themselves. Truth always has a double impact when it is a personal discovery. Jesus did not wish to give them answers on a plate, but to make them think. This is true of all Christian understanding: it may look like a shallow puddle, but it is deep as the greatest ocean!

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