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Parables – Stories for Real Life

The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
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He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to
you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.
Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak
to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear
or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but
never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people's
heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have
eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with
their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16But blessed are your eyes because they
see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and
righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear
but did not hear it.
Matthew 13:10-17

What stories really marked you as a child—either from the Bible or from other sources?
(Andy’s favorites: The Hobbit, James and the Giant Peach, Jonah) What do you think
made them so memorable (interesting characters, sad endings, wonderful setting etc.)?

How can we think of the Bible as one big story? (Creation, Fall, Abraham and the
Promise, Exodus, Law given, Israel fails, Jesus comes to die and rise again) Has the
ending been written yet? If so, what is it? If not, what role we do play in its ending?

This passage from Matthew 13 suggests that often times we can hear parables in the
Bible but not understand them because our hearts are not in the right place. The same
could be true of other passages in the Bible. This teaches us that we must approach
reading God’s word not only to gain knowledge but to desire transformation—growing in
Christ. Before we read, we should pray for understanding!

One useful way to help us understand a biblical passage is to ask ourselves, “Where
does this fit in the larger story that the Bible teaches?” When we can locate it on a plot
timeline, it will give it some clarity.

Where might the truth of the Parables of the New Wine and Unshrunk Patch (Matt. 9:14-
17) fit in the larger story that the Bible teaches? Have I taken this teaching to heart yet?

Reflection: Do you view or treat any people in your life as antagonists, or bad people in
your life story? Who does God teach us to love (neighbors and enemies)? Does God
consider you an antagonist in his grand story? According to the parables of the New
Wine and Unshrunk Patch, how do we become protagonists in God’s story? What is
God’s climax (either the resurrection or Jesus’ second coming)?

Prayer: God, I want to read your Word so that I can become more like Jesus. Please
illuminate my mind by your Holy Spirit so that I can understand how to live for you.
Empower me to become a part of your grand story of salvation to honor your glory and
purposes.