TMOC 9: Parables and Miracles
Throughout His ministry, Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching in parables.
Even when it was easy enough to state things in more common terms, He insisted on using parables and symbolic speech. His disciples were vexed by this and said so. The answer Jesus gave does not translate well, given He spoke in His native Aramaic, and the explanation is recorded in Greek. But His answer as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (ch. 13) was itself a parable.
We’ve already noted parabolic language is the native Hebrew approach to spiritual matters. It was well understood from ancient times the best way to make someone remember something important was to build an interesting story around it. People do not forget a well-spun tale. Human memory has always been less than perfect, but this is what we know works best.
Whether the actual meaning of that story ever takes root is another matter. This was the point Jesus made as He answered His disciples in the Parable of the Sower. The truth of God is planted in the mind, but the mind needs some help to germinate and produce something which changes our lives. If the mind is backed up by only what human experience itself provides, then our natural human weaknesses will not be sufficient to make anything of the parables. This is why Israel failed her mission; ideal human conditions simply aren’t enough. If the soul is aware of spiritual things, because the spirit is alive, or even someday could be, then there is fertile soil for a harvest of truth.
The language and logic of the Spirit Realm is symbolic. The parables are not descriptive, but indicative. Only a living spirit can perceive the full meaning of things, and it doesn’t operate in human language. Only a living spirit can truly see the moral fabric woven into this fallen world, and nothing we can do in human language will enhance things. All we can do is condition the mind to obey, to connect with our own living spirits by becoming the servant, not the master.
Thus, Jesus chose parables to prevent a false piety, a false religion of legalism. The worst lie is the one standing closest to the truth. The best antidote to a pedestrian mind is to frustrate it by keeping things out of its reach. The Ultimate Truth of God as revealed in the person of Jesus the man was meant to polarize, to clearly separate those who would receive Him and those who would not. Those who did might not at the time know why they were so drawn, and they really didn’t need to know it intellectually. They needed to respond. The parables were a way of sifting out those who simply would not ever get it, because they were spiritually dead and too wrapped up in the concerns of this world.
So while every parable took the form of familiar human experiences, and Jesus consciously used the wealth of Hebrew parabolic images, He was counting on the divisive nature of the parables. Eventually it paid off. While the miraculous feedings drew in a huge following, most of those who followed were simply hoping they could quit working so hard for their next meal. To break them off, He told the parable of Bread of Life. After insisting in symbolic language He was the Bread they all really needed, it rattled the empty souls and they quit following Him. This reduced the physical and human demands on Jesus so He could truly serve the needs of those spiritually alive.
Jesus was fully aware He had to give everyone a chance to discover what was inside themselves in terms of His eternal mission. Thus, He performed these huge miracles on hundreds of people. They needed to see His teaching carried the Creator’s stamp of approval, that He was working on God’s own authority. Even Nicodemus understood as much, and when He interviewed Jesus, his question was in essence, “How can I reconcile what I see with what I have been taught?” The conflict was painful. The famously quoted response from Jesus is typically misunderstood. Jesus told Nicodemus the answer was not on the level of human intellect, but required a living spiritual connection with the Divine. If your spirit has not been brought to life, then you’ll never understand how miracles come, nor can you correct centuries of bad teaching based on very limited human capabilities.
Jesus was calling His whole nation to notice they were not on the right path. The miracles were their one best chance to see what they had lost. Whatever they could have had was denied them, even on the human level alone, because they had left the essential ground of understanding of the Covenant. The blessings of Law require not simply obeying the letter of the Law, but required the Law be a pathway to deeper spiritual realities. Because of the Hellenism of the rabbinical colleges, almost no one understood the Law properly because all they knew were the words. It was utterly necessary to have the Hebrew mystical culture just to obey the words, but to actually touch the face of God required something which Hellenism simply did not allow.
Jesus knew the shortest path to His Father’s divine Presence was turning the nation around. He also knew that wouldn’t happen in terms of the earthly system now in place. The only alternative was to make sure it was painfully obvious they were on the wrong track, then throw open the spiritual path first, allowing people to obtain the cultural background after the spiritual change.
The Scripture would offer enough clue, carrying the seeds of Ultimate Truth. Since the chosen keepers refused to keep the truth alive, it had to be taken from their hands. Jesus planned well before His public baptism to die as the final last sacrifice to end the old sacrificial system permanently. The implications of this was ending the Old Covenant itself. Since the surviving portion of Israel could no longer obey it anyway, that covenant was done. The written record still served a purpose, and would help to fill in the blanks after people’s souls had crossed over to the Eternal Kingdom of the Spirit. Once their spirits were alive, the restoration and redemption could proceed in their material existence.
Of course it would work better if that spiritual birth came in the proper cultural and intellectual climate, but that’s no longer possible. We don’t know how much Jesus saw prophetically regarding the global dominance of the Hellenism which lies under our Western Civilization. No one is going to tell you it’s impossible to be a Christian without replacing your cultural background with that of the Ancient Hebrew. What we will tell you is you can’t hope to fulfill the whole purpose of God in your life without striving to conquer that which was the final perversion destroying the Old Covenant — the Western semi-Aristotelian outlook and intellectual assumptions. If your spirit is alive, you’ll still love the parables of Jesus and repeat them, and you may even believe you understand them. You’ll be drawn with a power you don’t comprehend. But you’ll live a very misinformed life of Kingdom service which requires God to clean up an awful lot of messes you leave behind. Yes, others will see your life and still respond to the move of the Spirit, but you won’t get the full effect yourself.
Satan cannot prevent anyone’s spiritual birth. His battle is not against that, but to dim your witness and steal your share of the blessings available here. That includes the vast ocean of joy possible for those who have their minds conditioned to see and understand how to obey the Spirit. Not by compulsion and stumbling into it, but a mind ready to participate fully and willingly because it understands how God intended to reveal Himself to fallen humanity. If you don’t understand how Satan uses Western Civilization to accomplish his spiritual destruction of humanity, you are wasting your time reading this book. You’ll never get hold of the mind of Christ. Jesus’ use of parables was meant to point out this very thing.
Once Jesus ascended into Heaven, and sent back His Spirit into those prepared for His Presence, all those parables came to life in their minds. All those perplexing teachings suddenly had meaning.
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