"A farmer went out to plant his seed. While the farmer was planting, some seed fell beside the road. People walked on the seed, and the birds ate all this seed. Some seed fell on rock. This seed began to grow, but then died because the seed had no water. Some seed fell among thorny weeds. This seed grew, but later the weeds stopped the good plants from growing. And some seed fell on good ground. This seed grew and made 100 times more grain." Jesus finished the story. Then Jesus called out, "You people that hear me, listen!" Jesus' followers asked him, "What does this story mean?" Jesus said, "You have been chosen to know the secrets of the kingdom of God. But I use stories to speak to other people. I do this so that: 'They will look, but they will not see; and they will listen, but they will not understand.'"
— Luke 8:5-10 NLT
"You know, some people really like that person's preaching, but I think he uses too many stories! Too many people today just want to be entertained with stories. What I like is just good ol' plain preaching!"
Yes, that's a quote I've heard a time or two. What the person making the accusation fails to realize is that God's greatest preachers, including Jesus, made frequent use of stories and even physical illustrations in their preaching and prophecies. Can a person use too many stories? Probably not if they are used like Jesus often used them—to help his listeners gain insight and have a visual cue to help them remember the main point of his message. In other parables, Jesus uses stories to make things clear to his disciples, but make things confusing to his critics and opponents.
Stories can be used frivolously or to manipulate the emotions of people. On the other hand, stories can be used to powerfully drive home an important spiritual truth. They can be used to help give the listener a deeper insight into that truth by enabling that listener to grab hold of a self-discovered insight into God's truth through his or her processing of the story. At the same time, those outside the truth-seeking audience are left in the dark about the message, taking away much of their power for criticism.
Father, thank you for the power of stories to illustrate your truth and to help me remember that truth more easily. Most of all, dear Father, thank you for giving me the Bible to tell me about your love for all people and your plan to send Jesus. I know the Bible is full of all sorts of different kinds of stories that tell of your work in the world and your love for your children. Bless me as I take time each day to open my heart to that story. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Matthew 13:9-13
- Luke 13:9-13
- Mark 12:12
About This Devotional
What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.
What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.