Parables and Paradox – The Stories of Jesus

26 11 2007

Matthew 14:44

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Matthew 20:1-16 

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, `You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, `Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, `You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, `Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. `These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, `and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, `Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last”

Matthew 13:31-32

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.

For those of you not paying attention, the mustard seed grows into a fairly modest plant, not a tree.  These are only some of the examples of how Jesus makes little to no sense.  When it comes to instructing people on how to live their lives, I usually find that ambiguousness is not the best way to go – but hey, I’m not Jesus.  But the good news is that Jesus says that if you don’t understand – you’re screwed.  Jesus’ words are laden with paradox and contradiction – making it impossible to simply ‘live by the bible’.  In order to follow one commandment you must ignore several others.  Therefore there is no definitive understanding of the bible, everything is interpretation. 

Therefore to say that Jesus was a great moral teacher means that the words of Jesus you’ve cherry-picked out of the new testament make him a good moral teacher.  Which, ultimately, says more about you than about Jesus – If you pay attention to only the things which you think are good than the goodness is coming from you, not from him.  The only reason any goodness has come out of that evil book is because people have picked their passages to conform to their own world view – proving once again that morality does not spring from religion.

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4 responses

26 11 2007
The Dilemma of the Religious Moderate « Fear of Ignorance

[…] as a moral teacher when in reality he was a wandering lunatic (which one can see when one reads his parables – either he was insane or we have lost so much of his original words that what we are left with is […]

15 01 2008
Steve

Actually, you’ve nailed the exact point of the Lord’s parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13. It grew to become something (“a tree”) that it never ought to have been – so large that the fowls came to rest in its branches.

If you follow through some of his other parables and look at them together, the meaning becomes clearer. For example, if we had read the first parable in Matthew 13, we know that the fowls represent Satan and his workers who snatch the seed of God’s Word out of the hearts of men.

So, here the Lord Jesus is saying that ‘Christendom’ – professing religion – is like a mustard plant that became a tree. It has assumed proportions that He never desired it to. What started out small and simple, has become a great economical & political organization. It was supposed to be small & humble, but it has become a monstrosity. And as a result, fowls – evil workers – rest in its branches.

I think we see this today in the scandals and sex-abuse cases in the churches. Professing religious has become this great monstrosity – this great power. And only know are we seeing the fowls – the wicked men – who have been able to hide in its branches.

In this parable the Lord is linking back with a similar story about a tree that was given as a prophecy to Nebuchanezzar in Daniel.

Jesus spoke in parables to hide truths from those who had rejected him. He only began to speak in parables in Matthew 13 after the national leaders had rejected him and his miracles in Matthew 12 (and earlier). They exist to hide truth from those who reject him and reveal it to those who believe. This revelation comes through His Word and the working of the Holy Spirit.

Steve

20 11 2011
carlmae aranjuez

nice !! i’ve learn a lot of things ..
🙂

12 03 2013
Don

Actually, the mustard that Jesus spoke of can easily grow over 10 feet tall, making it one of the tallest shrubs/trees in the deserts of that area. It is also one of the parables that He spoke that no one questioned. It would have been painfully obvious to His audience that He was speaking fraudulently if He was. Everyone in His listening community knew of the mustards that lived in the area. If Jesus was being so wrong as you assert, then it would have been exposed immediately. (http://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/mustard.php)

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