Most people have the perception that Jesus's parables were these cute, little anecdotes that help illustrate whatever point He was making.

I'm sorry.

That is wrong.

It is very wrong.

It could not possibly be more wrong.
In Matthew 13, Jesus starts to tell the people parables. Because we grow up hearing these our whole lives, we don't realize the point of a parable is not to illustrate something to make it more clear.

The point of a parable is to make it LESS clear.

It is to conceal.
In Matthew 12, Jesus gets in a huge, public fight with the scribes and Pharisees.

The seminary provosts and denominational presidents show up to verbally brawl with Him.

And He drops condemnation after condemnation upon Israel for their unbelief.
Matthew 12 flows directly into Matthew 13. The setting does not change.

Right after condemning Israel, telling them God's righteous judgment is coming for them, He starts to tell these confusing stories.
The first one He tells them is the parable of the soils. Seed falls on four soils and only bears fruit on one of them.

Then He tells them, "he who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Which basically means "figure it out on your own."
His disciples are taken aback by the fact that He tells the assembled masses this riddle without explaining it to them.

So Jesus explains why.
Jesus explanation is not "well guys, I am such a skilled communicator using these brilliant illustrations."


It is, "I am intentionally confusing these people because they refuse to believe."
They have had every opportunity to listen to what I have had to say, which I have said clearly, so now I'm going to speak things that make no sense.

He then quotes Isaiah to that effect:
The point of preaching in parables is to ACTIVELY make it HARDER for Israel.

The point of preaching in riddles is a judgment upon Israel.

He is driving a clear wedge between those who are loyal to Him and those who are not, between His children and Satan's.
But it isn't like Jesus is being a mean, nasty guy. The GOD who made the UNIVERSE appeared before them in the FLESH and did miracle upon miracle before their very eyes.

And they said, "NOPE. We don't want YOU."
So Jesus's response is: what they had is being taken from them.

But the flip side to this is that those who are loyal to Christ, mysteries are REVEALED.
Jesus FREELY tells the disciples what the parables are all about.

WAY TOO MANY people preaching the gospels act like the disciples are idiots who should have known the meaning of the parables.

NO, the point of a parable precisely that you CANNOT easily figure it out.
To those who trust and obey Jesus, He freely reveals what these parables are about.

THAT is the point of telling the parables.
A fascinating tangent to all of this is that the only place the word "mystery" is used in the Septuagint is in Daniel 2.

There God tells a parable of the kingdom to the ruler of the world, Nebuchadnezzar in a dream.
Nebuchadnezzar cannot figure out what it means. He is clearly terrified by this parable, and is ready to execute all his sorcerers and diviners for failing to ascertain its meaning from their gods when this exile from Judah offers to explain it.
Yahweh then gives that exile, Daniel, the revelation of the parable, also in a dream.

And Daniel explains it to Nebuchadnezzar.
The dream is about Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom, then the Persians who replace him, then the Greeks who replace them, then the Romans replacing them. And all these empires are smashed to bits by a stone that grows into a mountain that consumes the earth—the Kingdom of God.
Nebuchadnezzar, like the Israelites multitudes, is told a parable of the kingdom.

Unlike Israel, it WAS given to him to know the meaning. God showed him mercy (and eventually graciously brought into the kingdom).

Israel, however, is under judgment.

THAT is what parables mean.
So when you read Jesus telling all these parables. It isn't this cute Precious Moments scene.

It is verbal fire and brimstone falling upon a place worse than Sodom and Gomorrah.
I preached about these things yesterday, and if you are interested, you can read or listen here:…

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More from @BonifaceOption

20 May
It is shocking how badly people mangle the story of Jonah.

It is not about a guy terrified of the scary Assyrians flaying or boiling him alive.

It is also not primarily a story of an ethnocentrist angry that God would show kindness to people other than Israelites.
Some of it is from that stupid vegetable cartoon. But that just comes from terrible exegesis more broadly.

I say this all the time because I have to:

Bad OT exegesis comes from treating the Bible like a random collection of fables rather than an organic, cohesive narrative.
That is the problem with most children's storybook Bibles btw, (beyond how sappy and sentimental and moralistic they are).

Children grow up having no idea how these stories are deeply interwoven with each other. They have no idea how they are all connected.
Read 15 tweets
8 Mar
In American evangelicalism "the gospel" centers entirely around are you going to heaven or hell when you die.

When you read the gospels carefully, that does not seem to be the case at all. "The gospel" in the gospels is not really about where you are going when you die.
Obviously, salvation from hell is something that Jesus accomplishes for His people. That is not in dispute.

But that phrase "the gospel" is used in the gospels in a way we are completely not used to.
When Jesus & His disciples preach "the gospel" in the gospels they don't show up & say "here is your free ticket out of Hell."

They are announcing that the kingdom of God has arrived.

American evangelicals reduce that to shorthand for "ask Jesus into your heart & go to heaven."
Read 19 tweets
3 Mar
The fact I can find multiple illustrated versions of The Illiad that look like this but the “best” illustrated Bibles are barely any better than Precious Moments has far more explanatory power regarding contemporary Christianity than anything I can articulate.
What exactly *would* an artist’s rendition of Abimelech’s head getting crushed by a millstone look like?
Read 4 tweets
2 Mar
A common theme that I constantly return to is that the age we live in is one of profound loneliness, isolation, atomization, alienation, and despair.

I don't think I can emphasize this enough.
You would have to be EXTREMELY naive to believe these circumstances exist by accident.

All of this has been socially engineered since the early 20th C.

I am not gonna footnote it all here, but these people wrote about their designs right out in the open.
This tweet is funny; and this is because it is barely an exaggeration.

Human beings were not designed to live this way.

Read 19 tweets
12 Jan
I say this without a shred of hyperbole: nearly all the problems of contemporary Christendom can be traced back to a defective view of worship.

Even most of the best churches, that otherwise seriously believe the Bible, don't pay attention to what it says about worship.
What the contemporary church believes worship is for:

TEDtalks w/Bible verses
Theology lectures
Impressive rock concerts
What the Bible says worship is for:

God's people gathering before His presence
God renewing His covenant relationship with His people
God's people receiving grace from Him
God's people responding with praise
God's people returning a portion of the grace He has given
Read 13 tweets
11 Jan
The problem with pastoral ministry is that it often selects for men who are both not very good leaders and conflict averse.
What I mean is:

Start out with early-20-something men who have an interest in theological studies.

That already is a very narrow pool, and already the overwhelming majority of them would be described as “bookish” if we are being unbelievably charitable.

Load them down with tens of thousands of dollars of debt for skills and a degree that limit their career prospects to a singular vocation and almost literally nothing else.
Read 5 tweets

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