They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A story can hold so much more than dry propositions or facts and one of the reasons Jesus was such an effective communicator was because He employed stories. In these stories, Jesus could communicate big ideas in a way that they could be more accessible. These stories have come to be called parables. Parables are different than fables because they tend to use human beings as characters where fables often use animals, plants, trees, or other non-human things as characters. Another interesting aspect of parables is they by nature, tend to be about one central, specific idea. While other forms of the story leave the reader to draw their own conclusion and may contain many messages, parables by nature are single-minded. This is often a good thing to keep in mind when we read Jesus' parable. The danger is to read too much into the details and miss the point, and often, one runs the risk of inferring qualities and character of God which were not intended.
Parable can be a powerful way to communicate dense truth and can help us to grasp the heart of it in a deeper way. With story, we paint a picture using things that many of us can relate to and understand - like the spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down, it makes these truths accessible to so many. Sometimes though, for those who may tend to over-think things, parables can often be a little elusive. It is for this reason parables are great at freeing us from some of our self-righteousness and can level the playing field. These stories help us move from an often two-dimensional, flat, and linear way of thinking to a three-dimensional experience. These big picture stories can help free us from our little stories, they enlarge us!
While Jesus used parable masterfully, I reflect on the person of Jesus, his life, his death and Resurrection - and his promised coming again. I can see that Jesus as a person, the God-man is very much a parable of God Himself. The way that Jesus lived; the things He said and did. How He embodied the Good News of a loving God who was and still is actively engaged in reconciling Himself to His good creation. To rescue it from sin and death. To demonstrate this heart of love in such a profound way as to hold nothing back - not even the life of the King of Kings.
Jesus was asked by Philip in John 14 "Jesus, show us the Father!" and Jesus replied:
“You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act. (Message)
To see Jesus is to see the Father! The BEST picture in all of scripture of what God is like; His heart, His character, His desire, His passion, His mercy, His kindness, His justice is in Jesus. Jesus is a perfect parable of God with the one clear message "God is Love" (1 John 4:8)