Monday, November 5, 2012

Parables—Earthly Stories with a Heavenly Meaning

"With many such parables He spoke the word to them . . ." 
Mark 4:33 

What is a parable? A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus used over 40 parables in the Bible.

Why did Jesus teach in parables? Three reasons. Firstly, He spoke in parables to judge unbelievers. "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them," Jesus explains to His disciples in Matthew 13:11-13. "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."

Secondly, to fulfill Old Testament prophesy. Jesus repeats the Isaiah 6:9-10 prophesy,
You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them,
which was not only fulfilled during Isaiah's time when God was fed up with Israel's immorality, but was also re-fulfilled by Jesus Himself.

Thirdly, to bless those who, by the grace of God, believe in Him. The reason Jesus' parables are a blessing to us who have been granted to see and hear is because they stick in our minds and are highly motivational. If I were to mention, "Parable of the lost sheep, sower who went out to sow, prodigal son," right away you know exactly the stories and messages behind those parables.

We are finite beings who easily and often forget what we have been taught. But His parables help us grasps His teachings, relate to the symbolism, and implant the messages in our memory through practical everyday examples, such as fishing (Matthew13:47-50), shepherds (John10:1-18), and vineyards (Matthew20:1-16).

"It has been said that a parable is an earthy story with a heavenly meaning. The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustration profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning."1

Below is a parable I wrote in the style of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." Its purpose is merely to bless believers through symbolizing Christian life, relying on God, and praising Him, always knowing He has a plan in everything.

The Planter’s Bulb

Once there was a bulb. 
And the bulb was dry and brown and ugly. 
And the bulb was in a box with lots of other dry, brown, ugly bulbs. 
And the bulb could do nothing but sit in the box
And be dry and brown and ugly with other bulbs. 
Until one day. 

That day, the Planter picked the bulb out of the box of other bulbs,
And spent His own money to buy that dry, brown, ugly bulb. 
Then the bulb was caringly planted by the Planter. 
And the bulb loved the Planter very much for choosing it planting it. 

            The bulb wanted to show its love and thanks to the Planter,
But it couldn’t. 
It tried and strained and pushed and struggled to grow,
But just couldn’t. 
So the bulb called out to the Planter.
—“Planter, I was nothing when I was in the box, and I would still be in that box, without You.  You came and chose me and planted me, but I can still do nothing without You.”

            And the Planter came and watered the bulb. 
And the bulb thanked the Planter and grew roots. 

            But the bulb wanted to do more for the Planter than just grow roots that were hidden under the earth. 
So the bulb tried, and strained, and pushed from the bottom of its roots. 
But still nothing happened. 
And again the bulb called out to the Planter for help. 

            But the Planter said:
—“Just wait.”

            So the bulb waited. 
And spring came. 
And the bulb tried, and strained, and pushed from the bottom of its roots.
And something happened. 

            A little sprout happened. 

            First it was just an itty-bitty sprout peeking above the soil,
Then the sprout grew into a little green finger,
Then the finger grew into leaves and a stem,
Then the stem bulged at the top,
Then the bulge turned into a blossom, then the blossom unfolded into a flower. 
And all the people marveled at the bulb and its flower;
And little girls sniffed the flower;
And bees and butterflies drank the flower’s nectar;
And the bulb glorified the Planter. 

            So each spring, the bulb would grow a flower to show its appreciation to the Planter. 
And its flower would silently sing praise by its refulgent petals and fragrant aroma through the spring,
Until the Planter would come and pick the flower from the bulb. 
But the bulb didn’t mind. 
The flower was the bulb’s praise offering to the Planter;
So the Planter may take my flower if he wishes, thought the bulb. 
And the bulb always grew a new flower for the Planter next spring.

            But one late spring day, the Planter did not come and pick the bulb’s flower. 
And the bulb waited. 
And waited. 
And the Planter did not come. 
But the scorching heat of summer came. 
And the flower began to die. 
The petals fell off,
And the aroma faded away,
And a deformed bulge appeared where the blossom used to be,
And the leaves began to shrivel up,
And the stem grew weak and began to bend. 
And it became dry and brown and ugly.

            The people no longer marveled at the flower’s beauty but looked down on it,
And little girls laughed and pointed at it. 
And the bulb was distraught.  
So the bulb cried out to the Planter.
—“Each spring I give you a beautiful flower, and You collect it from me.  But now you have rejected me.  Why did You let my flower become like this?  How could you do this to me?!” 

And the Planter did not answer.
And the bulb did not love the Planter anymore. 

            Then the Planter spoke to the bulb. 
—“Have you forgotten, I chose you—a dry, brown, ugly bulb—out of a box of other bulbs, and I bought you and planted you and watered you.  And though you do not love me, I still love you all the same, and I know what I am doing.  Why are you questioning Me?”

            And the bulb was ashamed. 

            Then something happened. 

            The deformed bulge—where the blossom used to be—cracked open,
And inside were lots of tiny, black seeds. 
And a breeze blew and swept up the seeds and scattered them all around the bulb. 

            And the next spring, all around the bulb, tiny little sprouts stuck their green heads up. 
First they were just itty-bitty sprouts peeking above the soil,
Then the sprouts grew into little green fingers,
Then the fingers grew into leaves and stems,
Then the stems bulged at the top, then the bulges turned into a blossoms,
Then the blossoms unfolded into flowers, all around the bulb.

            The bulb was sorry that it had ever stopped loving the Planter,
And it was sorry that it had questioned the Planter,
For the Planter had a purpose in everything. 

And that spring,
The bulb grew the most beautiful flower that it had ever grown for the Planter.
And the bulb praised the Planter from the bottom of its roots. 

Dedicated to Him,

Special thanks to my pastor.
Here is a list of parables Jesus taught.  There are also some metaphors mixed in with the list. 

Image from


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