Pulling Heaven into Earth
“He began to teach again by the sea. . . .” Mark 4:1
Now, by the shore of Galilee, He sees the crowd assembled along the shore at the waters’ edge. As He looked at the crowd, He was aware there was a range of hearing and understanding. He knew the mystery of the kingdom was being worked out in their lives differently; some were being awakened by faith, while others were holding on to their unbelief. Regardless, Jesus wanted them to listen with receptive hearts. He was the Word of God, and for this He had come.
But Jesus was faced with a problem – how to get the message across to such a diverse audience? Most with little education, how could the message of the kingdom be made understandable? God’s way of revealing Himself since the beginning of time had always been a simple way which all could understand.
So Jesus, in order to make Divine things plain, did what painters do, He spoke in pictures, or parables, where He compared the unknown with the known, the strange with the familiar. He explained the supernatural world by saying it’s like something we know in our natural world.
The parables are illuminating. Jesus was an artist at joining things that were different in order to bring clarity. It was His way of pulling heaven into earth.
Jesus’ use of parables lit up Divine things. They fill our minds with imagery which helps us to see the unseen and to gain a firm hold on spiritual truth which would otherwise slip past our understanding.
The parable of the prodigal son gives us a picture of the life of God. The birds and the flowers teach us His care for every detail of our life. We think of Jesus the Savior as the Good Shepherd; of His salvation as a pearl of great price; of His service as work in a vineyard; of the joy of the kingdom as a marriage feast. The wheat and the tares warns us of spiritual counterfeits; the unlit lamp calls us to be awake and watching; the corn, the wheat falling onto the ground speaks of the death and resurrection. Jesus with His use of parables pulled heaven into earth so we no longer would have to grope in the dark.
Truth has power when it’s responded to. How do you respond to Jesus’ word pictures? Are you perceptive and receptive, or filled with doubt?