Jesus: Teacher And Healer
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“While claiming full unity and equality with God, Jesus was very active as a teacher and healer. Through his parables, direct teaching on important topics, and miracles, Jesus used commonplace human situations to tell us about God’s interest in each of us, the way to make good choices in our life, and about the Kingdom” (Adult Learner’s Guide).
What is a parable? A parable is a short story or a brief tale that is told to illustrate a religious, moral, or philosophical idea. About one third of Jesus Christ’s recorded teachings are in the form of parables. Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters are bold, and the symbolism is rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism.
Before a certain point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies using common things that would be familiar to everyone (salt, bread, sheep, etc.) and their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching (Stories for All Peoples).
The parables that Jesus told were not just for those whom he personally taught. His parables are part of his gospel and are therefore for all peoples throughout all nations and throughout all time. When he said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15) he had already presented the gospel in a form that suits that great commission. Furthermore, Jesus crafted his parables in such a way that they would remain effective even when carried far beyond his own teaching environment into the future. They became an important part of the scriptures, so that they could be retold all around the world and all through the centuries. They were truly lessons for the future, and have, through 2000 years, provided many individual seekers with insights that enable them to embrace the kingdom of heaven and eternal life (Stories for All Peoples).
“Bible parables conform to artistic, illustrative devices, which may have been used in any well-written literary piece. They must also, however, be understood as tools employed by God the Holy Spirit to inspire His written word and convey His truths” (Parables of Jesus – Vivid Illustrations).
Jesus’ two most famous parables are the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Both parables illustrate God's love for sinners and God's command that we show compassion to all people.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
The parable of the prodigal son is about a son who decides to take his inheritance and spend it on a life of sin. After his money runs out, his life hits rock bottom. He decides to return home and see if his father will take him back as a lowly servant. His father, however, doesn’t take him back as a servant. Instead, he takes him back as a son. His father clothes him with the best robe, kills the fatted calf, and throws him a party. The father is rejoicing because his prodigal son has returned.
The point to emphasize here is that this father, instead of worrying about his honor, which was very important in that culture, throws it away and does not act as the typical patriarchal father. Instead, he acts rather as a mother and forgives both sons. His chief concern is that they live together in peace and harmony. Also, if we choose to do things our own way instead of the Father's way, we have to live with the consequences of our actions.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is about a man who was attacked, robbed and left to die by the side of a road. Later, a priest saw the stricken figure and avoided him. Similarly, a Levite saw the man and ignored him as well. Then a Samaritan passed by, and, despite the mutual antipathy between Samaritans and the Jewish population, immediately rendered assistance by giving him first aid and taking him to an inn to recover.
This parable highlights God is the Father of everyone. There are no elites and no chosen ones, because everybody is chosen in God's plan and God desires all persons to be saved. So the question is this: How can we let ourselves be touched by other people whom we hardly know? The Samaritan is touched because he sees the wounded man. The priest and the Levite also see him, but they see not a person needing help but a possible source of impurity. The first challenge is to open one’s eyes to see. Just before the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus turns to the disciples and says, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see what you see’ (10.23).
Every society makes some people visible and others disappear. In our society politicians and film stars, singers and football players are all visible. They appear in public spaces and on the billboards and televisions. But we make the poor invisible. They disappear from the electoral lists. They have neither a voice nor a face.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
“Or, what a woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:8-10).
The parable of the lost coin illustrates a woman who has lost one of her coins and continually searches the whole house until she finds it. After she finds the coin, she asks her friends to rejoice with her. In turn, there is great joy in Heaven over the salvation of a lost sinner.
Although this parable is short, it teaches us many things about women who live in poverty and their great effort for survival. I feel her suffering as she searches for the lost coin and then her happiness when she finds it.
The Miracles of Jesus Christ
How is a miracle defined? According to the New Testament, a miracle is an unusual and significant event, which requires the working of a supernatural agent and is performed for the purpose of authenticating the message or the messenger. “During the course of His three-year public ministry, Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His ability to heal, to master the elements, to affect the outcome of our endeavors, and even to raise the dead. Every one of His miracles occurred outside the bounds of natural law, and all of them had a beneficial result” (Miracles of Jesus Christ).
Changing Water into Wine
There was a wedding, which took place in the village of Cana, in Galilee. Among the guest were Mary, Jesus, and His disciples. The wine supply ran out and Jesus had six water pots filled with water. He then had the steward of feast taste the water that was now wine. The steward of feast then called the bridegroom over and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now" (John 2:1-10).
This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in him (John 2:11).
Raising a Widow’s Son
Approaching the town of Nain, the dead and only son of a widow, was being carried out. When Jesus saw this He had compassion for the widow and told her not to weep. He then touched the bier and said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. The people seeing this, glorified God, and the word about Him spread throughout Judea, and all the surrounding country (Luke 7:11-17).
All the miracles of Jesus pointed to him as the Messiah. Jesus did not just heal the sick and raise the dead for the express purpose of taking suffering away, but to produce the understanding of His kingdom. Yet He did have compassion on the people and felt their suffering enough to relieve them by showing His concern through love.
The common theme of Jesus’ parables is a great thesis, which centers on the kingdom of God. Each parable explores and expands the theme. The kingship of God may be found first in the Old Testament (Psalms 24:9-10; Isaiah 6:5). Daniel 4:1 proclaims the divine sovereignty over secular kingdoms, and the Ten Commandments require full obedience to God.
Jesus lifted the theme to new heights and through His parables portrayed the nature of kingdom (Mark 4:26-29), the grace of the kingdom (Luke 18:9-17), the crisis of the kingdom (Luke 12:54-56), and the conditions of the kingdom such as commitment (Luke 14:28-30), forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-25), and compassion (Luke 10:25-37).
Jesus, the Son of God, clearly had the personality and gift to both draw in the people He spoke to and keep their attention. He proved to be effective in His teachings through parables and kept His peoples faith alive through the miracles He performed.
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