A question I often hear is “why did Christ try to obscure his doctrine by using parables?”
The Bible Dictionary Pulls It All Together
I teach an Institute of Religion class for 18-30 year olds. During our first class this September, I showed them how I had highlighted the edges of one section of my scriptures. “This is the Bible Dictionary. I refer to it so often that I wanted to make it easy to find. When you have a question about something in the scriptures, first turn to the dictionary and it will point you to the source scriptures that will answer your question.” The following is the first paragraph under the heading “Parables”:
“Most teachers, especially those in the Middle East, have used some form of parable in their instruction, but none so exclusively as Jesus at one period of His ministry. During part of the Galilean ministry the record states that “without a parable spake he not unto them” (Mark 4:34). From our Lord’s words (Matt. 13:13–15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10) we learn the reason for this method. It was to veil the meaning. The parable conveys to the hearer religious truth exactly in proportion to his faith and intelligence; to the dull and uninspired it is a mere story, “seeing they see not,” while to the instructed and spiritual it reveals the mysteries or secrets of the kingdom of heaven. Thus it is that the parable exhibits the condition of all true knowledge. Only he who seeks finds.”
The Unjust Steward: An Example to “The Children of Light”
This song, “Children of Light”, is from Hidden Treasures: A Musical Revue of the Parables of Jesus Christ”. I am including the reenactment of the parable in this video clip, because The Parable of the Unjust Steward is a story in which the meaning is not immediately apparent. The text of this parable is found in Luke 16:1-8. Why would a master commend his steward for cutting unprofitable, lame-duck deals with the master’s debtors? Why is this “child of the world” held up as a good example to the “children of light”? Want a fast track to the meaning? Lyrics for “Children of Light” are here.
A Scary Parable
While many parables present principles that are pretty easy to understand and agree with (like “The Lost Sheep“) this is one of the parables that frankly, scares the sock off me. Why?
Like most believers, I HOPE I’m counted among the “children of light”. Yet – WOW – this parable clearly points out that the “children of the world” (people who don’t believe in a god or an afterlife) do a better job of preparing (saving money, making connections, etc.) for the only future they know (their later life and old age) than the “children of light”. How so?
“Children of Light” profess to know of a life after death and believe they will one day stand before God. If we base our daily actions on this knowledge, we work very hard to make sure we do the things that would please God (see The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats) and yet… are we distracted by the things of the world? Do we end up wasting minutes, days (and lives!) in pursuit of “things that won’t last through the night”? This parable warns that the very people who profess belief are the ones who aren’t preparing well. YIKES!
Why does Christ cloak this doctrine? Because once we know the doctrine, we’re accountable. Might it be better to just dance through life (fingers in our ears, “la-la-la”!) and NOT learn, so we manage to avoid accountability?
All I know is the music will end for me one day. I want to be happy with “what I have when the music’s done”. Time for me to reread The Sheep and the Goats and evaluate if “actions are matching words” in my life.
I am the target demographic for this parable.