Most preachers and pastors use up a large portion of their sermon with story telling and illustrations. They say that doing so makes the message more memorable and enjoyable. And besides, “Jesus told stories, and so should we.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to get annoyed at all the illustrations, stories, and witty jokes that pepper most sermons today. I want something solid to chew on and think over. If I want entertainment, I can watch a movie. And frankly, I can’t remember a single sermon story I’ve heard…let alone the sermons they went with. So for me, stories don’t make the sermon more enjoyable or memorable. But that’s just me. I understand that for lots of people, stories do help keep their attention and remember what is said. So I won’t argue with these reasons for using stories in sermons.
But I have to disagree with the idea that “Jesus told stories and so should we.”
Certainly, Jesus told stories. There’s not denying that. The Gospels are full of stories that Jesus told. We call them ‘parables.” But the Gospels also reveal that these parables were told, not to reveal truth, but to conceal it. He spoke in parables to keep people confused.
How do we know this is why Jesus told parables? Because He said so. His disciples didn’t understand most of what Jesus said either, and so one time they asked Him why He spoke in parables. His answer? “So that in seeing, they will not see, and in hearing, they will not understand” (Luke 8:10).
Why would Jesus do this? He goes on to explain to His disciples that He wants them to understand what He says, as well as anybody else who comes to Him for an explanation of His parables. In other words, Jesus wants to disciple people…especially those who realized they didn’t know it all. He provided a clear explanation of His parables to those who asked Him.
And just in case we get the idea that we should start preaching nonsense sermons, we must understand that most of the time, Jesus taught through books of the Bible. We’ll get into how we know this in the next post.
But for now, just realize that if you are ever confused about what you read in the Bible – especially with the teachings and parables of Jesus – you are in good company. In some ways, the Bible was meant to be confusing. This is so that it keeps us humble, and none of us can fully understand or grasp all of it. It keeps us coming back to God for insight, understanding, and wisdom. Not knowing it all keeps us coming back for more. It keeps us dependant upon God, coming daily to sit at His feet and learn.
Are you confused by a passage or concept in Scripture? Tell God. Ask Him to teach you. Come before Him in prayer and with an open Bible saying, “Teach me wonderful things from your Word.”