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His Surprising Stories

C. S. Lewis is widely known for his novels, such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But he is just as well known for his philosophical writing on Christian apologetics, for example, Mere Christianity. The prolific author had the amazing ability to communicate biblical and theological truth not only to adults but also to children, through stories that captured their imagination.

Jesus also used storytelling to convey truth. Many people think Jesus taught in parables as a way of expressing complex theological truths in a simple form. But today’s passage reveals that there was another, more mysterious reason for many of Jesus’ parables. They weren’t intended to make the truth clearer but to hide it. Why was Jesus so indirect? In part, this mode of teaching was a form of judgment upon those who refused to listen to Him with a heart of faith (vv. 13–16).

Jesus’ parables were a kind of litmus test, either proving the faith or revealing the unbelief of those who heard them. Jesus’ stories were deceptively simple. Not all who understood accepted the truth of what He taught. Even Jesus’ disciples felt a need to have His parables explained to them (vv. 18–23). In the parable of the sower, for example, three out of four attempts failed to produce lasting fruit. In some cases it was a failure to understand what had been taught. It may also have been a result of a hardened heart. Or it may be because those who heard were distracted by other things and did not pay attention to what they had heard. What makes the ultimate difference? According to Jesus it is a matter of hearing with understanding (v. 23).

>> Do you merely hear God’s Word? Or is your heart open to understanding? In today’s passage, Jesus is referring to spiritual comprehension, a result of the condition of the heart and the work of the Spirit. James 1:5 promises that anyone who lacks the wisdom of God may ask for it and God will answer.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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