Limiting or listening

Through the parables with a Samaritan helper

Jesus taught extensively in parables, so much so that

“he did not speak to them without a parable”

Matt 13:34

According to some commentators, when Jesus speaks in the Synoptic gospels fully one third of the time it is a parable.1 Do we recognize the power of these teachings? When Jesus taught in parables it was polarizing. People wanted to make him king or kill him. Riots started. Crowds marveled at his teaching and authority (Matt 7:27-28). The parables of Jesus were raw and polarizing. They made a significant impact with people – they were not just nice stories for children. It was Bailey who observed that:

The more familiar a parable, the more it cries out to be rescued from the barnacles that have attached themselves to it over the centuries2

There are many reasons why barnacles attach to parables and change the shape of Jesus teaching. Interpretations are layered on past interpretations. Rather than read Jesus teaching, we filter them through our faith traditions preferred understandings. Here’s a few reasons:

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