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The disciples of Jesus heard His story and asked Him to explain to them what the parable meant. He said, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” (Luke 8:9; Mark 4:13).
The parable in question was the one we refer to as the parable of the sower. According to Christ’s own words, this is the most basic and understandable of all of His parables. If this was a college class, this would be Parables 101.
The kingdom of heaven is so otherworldly, infinite, and utterly beyond a succinct description that even Jesus asked out loud, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?” (Mark 4:30). Then time and time again, Jesus continued to reveal His kingdom with the phrase, “The kingdom of God is like….”
Before we move on to Parables 201 or Parables 301, let’s make sure we know this most basic parable intimately. According to Jesus, this parable is the key to unlocking the meaning of all of His other parables. Approach this one again as you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal something new to your heart.
For instance, as I read through this parable again this week I was captivated by those whom Jesus said had shallow roots. It reminded me that I need to temper my teaching with gentleness. If I’m too aggressive or too theologically deep, I may do damage these tender plants. On the other hand, if I’m too timid, I may leave these plants vulnerable to the ravages of disease or the scorching of the sun. Here again, I must rely on the Holy Spirit’s help. The message may be the same, but perhaps my delivery needs to be more appropriate to my audience.
Let me leave you with this challenge: When was the last time you saw something for the first time in this simplest of parables? If it’s been a while, it may be time for a quick refresher in Parables 101, then you will have the key to go deeper into the other parables. Try it and let me know how it works for you.
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