Christ's Key to Unlocking Hidden Stores of Wisdom
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables' and without a parable spake he not unto them: (KJV)
All these things spake Jesus in similes to the multitudes, and without a simile he was not speaking to them. (YLT)
Jesus used parables, and what is a parable? Literally, it's the placing of one thing right beside another. Symbolically, it's a comparison. And what does it compare? Well, when told in story form, the parable illustrates the speaker's point in some meaningful way. When Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like... ," He used those stories to teach important truths in a way that allowed Him to make distinctions between those who would receive what the Father was giving and those who were ever seeing but not perceiving and ever hearing but not understanding. Jesus used parables, so, in following the great Teacher, I will use parables.
Once upon a time, there was a wise king who had a lovely daughter. Many women in his kingdom were beautiful, but she surpassed them all. Stories of her beauty spread far and wide. Some who heard of this blessed the king, and some cursed him. Chief among those who spoke evil was an ancient wyrm, a dragon most sinister. Perhaps it was jealousy that moved the king's enemy to plot against him, perhaps it was simply a malevolent heart, but one day, the wyrm seized the princess and carried her off to his keep, where he cruelly kept her in rags, chains, and darkness, lying to her always about the death of her father, or saying that he'd long since abandoned her. After being in misery so long, she'd even begun to believe such things, if only a little.
Contrary to that which the ancient one was telling her, the king never stopped loving his daughter or seeking her out. He called forth the heroes of the land to aid him, and even promised her hand in marriage to the one who brought her safely home. Many tried to rescue her, either for love of the princess or her father, for she was certainly fair and he was a very good king, but they all failed. The dragon was powerful and clever, and he had many servants, even among the king's own subjects. One by one, they all died, and none were found who were worthy to overcome the dragon or free the princess. So the king said, "I will send my only son. Surely he will overcome."
So the king's son set forth to fetch the princess home. He went among the subjects in disguise, known only to a few trusted allies. He considered well the lair of his ancient enemy, the various approaches to it, the various pitfalls and snares, and also its guards. He took along his closest friends and taught them also how to face the enemy. More than this, however, he taught them to live as faithful subjects of the good king, who ever supported their efforts to do his bidding because he genuinely cared for them. And when the time was just right, the good son went into the lair of the enemy and defeated that horrible dragon. In the highest room of the tallest tower, he found and slew the evil one, took the keys to the dungeons below the keep, and descended into darkness to rescue the princess. Returning to his father, they all lived happily ever after.
We recognize this story, do we not? It echoes and reflects the sound and the sight of our Lord's tale enough to be recognizable. Does it answer all questions? Does it match His Story exactly? No, of course not. Each story serves its own purpose, illustrates its own point. Unanswered questions may be reserved for other tales, other parables, cast alongside, to make a comparison and teach another lesson.
Once upon a time, God made for Himself people, created in His own Image. He did this knowing all that would come after, in fact planning every step of the Way that He would eventually walk among them. Their stories would be His Story, and His Story would be theirs. But His Story would include pain and loss and it would not be right to thrust all of it upon the people He created as soon as He set them down upon the rich, warm earth bursting with life in the after-echo of His Voice, still vibrating with the soothingly powerful commanding words of Creation.
How then should they have a part in the story and yet be spared all that pain for as long as possible? He would give them a simple rule to obey, and make it relevant to the source of ultimate pain and joy in His Story, the cross, by placing a tree in their midst. So long as they did not eat from that tree, obeying His one simple rule, they would be spared the worst of the story-echo-reflections. They would live and not die. But they would eat of it... Yes, but not at the very first.
And so it was, for some time, the people He made lived in humble peace in the Garden He had made for them to serve and protect. And so it was that time had no meaning to them for they knew not death and had no reason to count days or years, not until after they had tasted of death itself and began the counting to see whether or not what God had said was true, that in the day they ate of it, they would surely die.
They knew what it was to walk with God in Paradise. But once they ate of the curse, they indeed experienced the fullness of Christ's story, the One True Story of God. Why would a father know what it is to lose a son? Because the One True Father would know what it is to watch His Son die. Why would a father go away to work the earth and bring home food? Because the Father would go away from us as a result of sin and the cursed earth and eventually return with the manna that came down from Heaven. Why would a woman bring forth children in pain? Because the Bride, sealed in the Spirit, would bring forth children in pain. Why would there be a happily ever after in the stories we tell our children? Because there is a happily ever after for the Children of God Almighty.
And now we have to ask ourselves the question: "Why is it that the story of our Lord sounds so much like a tale that we all know?" It is for this reason: We are made in the Image of God, so that the thing that makes us unique among all the creatures in His Creation is that we have Story. It is not language, for apes and birds may communicate with us, along with the other animals, to lesser or greater extent. It is not the tools we use, for animals also use tools to help them achieve an end more easily. It is not in our flesh, for primates and certain other critters may echo dimly our physical characteristics. No, it isn't any of the things we tend to think of as making us distinct from the other animals, though indeed we have greater complexity, specificity, understanding and mastery in those ways that we think make us distinctly and uniquely human. Rather, it is Story alone that sets us apart from all the rest of His Creation here on earth. If any animal has a story, it is only because of its interaction with human beings. We are made in the Image of God, so we have Story, and our stories echo His Great One True Story precisely for that reason. And I find that very encouraging, that your story, your story, your story and my story, all our stories, are echoes of the story of the One True Hero, fully God and fully human, Jesus, the Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
It has been said that all stories may be broken down ultimately to one of two tales: A man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Understanding that our stories are really His Story shows us clearly that these two tales are at once one story with two different perspectives. As one fully human, Jesus is the man going on a journey. As God, Jesus is the stranger coming to town. When we consider Scripture, when we really look at the stories as parables, we find that all those true stories only echo over and over again the Story of Christ. Am I saying that they are myths, meaning they are untrue? No. I am saying they have both mythical and mystical qualities in addition to having actually happened. Again and again, the man of God meets the woman at the well. Again and again, salvation passes through the man in the tree, first as the babe in a manger, reflected in Moses, and second as the man passing through the waters, which represent change, death, and also rebirth, with timber, echoed in Noah. Again and again, the man of God sleeps in the vessel tossed on waves: Noah, Jonah, Jesus. Elijah and Elisha echo John the Baptist, who was the Elijah to come, and Jesus. King David and Jonathan, whom the king loved, reflect Jesus and John, the disciple whom our Lord loved. Look into it and see if what I say is not Truth from the Mouth of God Almighty Himself.
Is this some new thing never heard before? No. The apostles understood these things, as did Paul who considered himself the least of them. You can see hints written in Scripture that demonstrate their understanding. In fact, you yourselves may read where His followers were first given this knowledge on the Emmaus road as recorded in Luke 24. "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself." And afterward they said, "Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (BSB) So if you have never heard this thing I'm telling you before, you should not feel too badly because even those who walked with Him required a special act of Christ to "open the Scriptures" to their eyes and ears.
Matthew clearly understood these things when He recorded his gospel and wrote the words that have caused so much controversy among scholars, "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). (NIV) The quote here refers to words found in Isaiah, which causes the non-Christian Jew to stumble because there, in Isaiah, the word translated "virgin" could actually be translated "maiden" and seemingly refers to another birth entirely. Some have even accused Matthew of proof-texting, where one uses a quote out of context as support. This is not a problem, however, because Matthew was clearly quoting something he saw as a reflection or echo of the One True Story of Christ.
John, likewise, gives us clues when he states in 21:25, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." (ESV) Was he over-exaggerating, or was he giving the reader a clue about the nature of our stories and their source in history, that is God's One True Story? See how history literally is His Story? And again, as I alluded to before, John deliberately refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, displaying the depth of his understanding as he does so that this is what is echoed in King David's love for Jonathan. If Christ did not do the things He did, how then should everything that was written be fulfilled?
But, if these things are indeed true, why have you not heard them before? I cannot answer every question. Many things have been kept hidden from me while other things have been opened. I believe they have been revealed at this time for a purpose, part of which is the preparation of the Bride for her Groom. You know that when the big day approaches, a woman will prepare herself for the one she loves. If our Lord is indeed your Lover, being His Beloved, you ought to see to it that you begin making preparations if you have not already. And now seeing the parables of Christ laid bare before you, you should know that when the Lover says that He will climb the tree in Song of Songs, to take hold of its fruit, the writer speaks to us at once of a particular lover, but also Christ. Oh how He sings over you! The time has indeed come for the Bride to reach full maturity in Christ and regain the understanding she lost long ago. I am called for this purpose: to help the Bride ready herself. And she must ready herself, else why would Revelation 19:7 say that at the time of the wedding feast of the Lamb, His Bride has made herself ready?