Considering Parables today…
Someone, asked me an interesting question yesterday: How did Jesus teach. Not what did He teach, but how. Got me re-interested in parables and symbolic teachings…
I started thinking about Jesus’ method as well as His Message, which He was—in His case, the medium really was the message!
In this passage for instance in Mark 4 and 5…
The Parable of the Sower
4 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, wso that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, ait withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and ca hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
He’s talking about planting words of truth, even as He IS The Word and The Truth! Gotta love it. There’s a self irony in Jesus’ Way!
And then, this little parable is all about planting the Word as little mini-farmers!
Just the fact that symbolic stories were the way Jesus taught to people in the outer circle is cool and kind-leading them in through symbol and the attraction to know. Not just stories, but symbols, little unpack-able mysteries which have to be traced into Being.
Poetic Reality! Life outside of our habitual understanding. Life which is revealed supernaturally!
Symbols draw people into the Reality of what they symbolize, as all good art does! Riddles, puzzles, parables—what an interesting method to draw people to spiritual understanding. Someone said the purpose of art is to drawn people into Real Reality!
Not abstract truths, but metaphors which called them towards…something which puzzles the everyday habitual mind (as clowns came out, in Hopi culture, before the chiefs, to get the people ready for wisdom!), and attracts the spirit towards some deeper reality.
He shocks, shakes, calls awake and forth—listen! Pay Attention, if you have spiritual ears, hear this…then He precedes to deliver the message in symbolic story. Fascinating! Listen! Behold! Wake up—i am about to tell you something. Love that way of shaking His audience awake to receive the word! There too, He is modeling how to teach!
Love this particular parable-a gardening farming one; (Jesus used farming, finances and fishing metaphors most often—all very down to earth!).
This sowing or planting metaphor reveals our typical obstacles to spiritual growth. Could meditate on it forever.
Jesus is in a boat on the water as He teaches. You have a Master on water teaching! Water=message word, mystery; and the people are still of the flesh= land shoreline, but the ones who are seeking, come to the edge of the shore. The whole metaphor is pitch perfect.
Then He starts teaching them about their obstacles to encountering the Kingdom (and describing the Kingdom itself as that which is reproductive and fruitful), and to spiritual growth-he does so, in a way which draws them towards overcoming their obstacles, and yet, at the same time He is training His disciples with Him–modeling, symbolizing how it will be for and in them.
The three basic obstacles to spiritual growth: bad soil, no roots, cares of this world. So simple and true. He uses stones and thorns as symbols of types of blocks, and really breaks the inner meaning down of each type.
He articulates each type of block to growth. And at the same time, He is training His own students through the experience. He, breaks down the riddles and puzzles-the symbolic expression for them later on the water.
Then, He rebukes the storm, again training them through symbolic action, about what is about to happen—understanding how to take charge over things which are being rebellious against His Nature, and He keeps teaching by symbolic actions!
Then, they arrive on the other side, where, immediately, a demonized man needs deliverance. He was preparing them to experience what He modeled! Great passage. The whole trajectory of the story has teaching in it, and is itself a symbol! Modeling it as your talking about it, real Mastery Teaching. This is how to sow-look for good soil! Here are the things which will block the growth of what you plant.
Even if you hate religion, these parables rock! Jesus was a good teacher. Even if you just consider how people learn and grow. Enjoying studying them again.
Take care of how you hear, He avers at the end, calls, and, nearly screams in His Tone in the text, notice, what you listen to, and how you take it in! Take care of how you symbolize and teach. Understand the resistances, and be wise. All just in one little passage. Jesus rocked and rocks. What a Way He has made and is.