Parables in the modern world.

Who knows anything about Mediterranean first century agricultural practise, other than what we have heard second hand, third hand or worse in church sermons.

Take this:

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:3-8

All very agricultural and ancient. We now use seed drills. Agriculture is more efficient than back then. Plus most people now live in cities. There are no longer the strong ties to the ground that there was in Jesus day, so the message gets hidden. Preachers have to describe the agriculture of Jesus’ times before tey can get at the meaning. Which is a shame, as the message is simple: People respond to the gospel according to their condition, some reject, some ignore, some are busy but others respond. It is our job to preach, if people do not respond it may not be our fauly, but if they do, then rejoice.

If we are to spread the word like Jesus did we are not to preach like Jesus did.

That sounds like a contradiction, let me explain: Jesus was culturally sensitive. He took things which were in his hearer’s experience and used them to preach the Gospel. “Consider the lilies,” he said, and was able to point at some lilies growing nearby. Broadcast sowing, as in the Bible passage above, would have been a common sight in those times. The hearers would understand.

So why do we not hear modern day parables? Where is the story of a football match related to God’s will? I am not knocking the Bible, it is the word of God to the world. But we need to utilise the principles of the Bible in a way that speaks to people in their own language and their experience. We need to know the Bible to do this.

Here’s an update in an African context.

The Sower - Luke 8:4-15

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