“Turn to his teaching, and see if anyone else ever spoke so simply as he did. A child can comprehend his parables. There are, in them, hidden truths which are a mystery even to Christ’s deeply-taught disciples; but Christ never mystified his hearers. He talked to them like a child. . .He never laid aside the simplicity of childhood, though he had all the dignity of fully-developed manhood. He wore his heart upon his sleeve, and spoke out what was in his mind in such plain, clear language that the poorest of the poor, and the lowest of the low were eager to listen to him.”
C. H. Spurgeon
I’ve been reading slowly, savoring my way through the Gospels for a solid year. I just finished Luke and am headed into John, the final Gospel account. I have craved daily life with Jesus, daily walking with Him, to remember where He put His feet, who His hands reached out to touch, who He noticed, who He welcomed, who He rebuked. I have needed to hear those red-letter words day-in and day-out. It has been such a rich time just soaking slowly, line by line.
Thus, when John MacArthur’s latest book, Parables: the mysteries of God’s kingdom revealed through the stories Jesus told, came up for review, I was drawn instantly toward it, hungry to read more about the parables, the stories Jesus told. The ways He taught about the Kingdom, the way He always came with stories, stories, stories. The way He unveiled the mysteries of the Kingdom to us, to His listeners, in the stories He told. The way He showed us that the Kingdom is not merely some high and lofty religious ideal; it meets the ground of our earth, our dust. The way He showed us that we can best understand the Kingdom by observing mustard seeds, pearls, soil, the ways of the farmer, yeast and dough, the beggar, the downcast sinner versus the upright Pharisee, a wayward child. The way He revealed to us that this world He formed and fashioned and set in motion, this world that He even today upholds and sustains down to the smallest detail, is rife with truth, with His meaning, His character, hints of His kingdom and ways.
“Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: They hid the truth from the self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him, while the same parables revealed truth to eager souls with childlike faith–those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Jesus thanked His Father for both results: ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight’ (Matt. 11:25-26).” (MacArthur)
MacArthur begins by explaining what parables are, and why Jesus used these as His main teaching method. He corrects some sloppy thinking about Jesus’ parables. Then he spends the rest of the book studying 10 different parables. As a result, you find yourself learning about the intricacies of the Pharisees and their Sabbath observance, the farming techniques of the day, the way soil and seed interact, the cost of discipleship, justice, grace, the conflict between Jews and Samaritans, justification by faith, and so forth, and what each of these things has to teach us about the Kingdom of God. You realize how much ground Jesus covered in these simple stories He told. How much He has given us to chew on, how richly He extended the beauties of the Kingdom to those who would have ears to hear. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending this time with MacArthur’s perspective on each of these parables and have been so encouraged and edified. His book is a happy read, clear exposition and fascinating, a great accompaniment to a study of the Gospels or just to familiarize oneself with Jesus’ parabolic form of teaching. For the seasoned student of Scripture, it will bring new light to all the dearly-loved parables. For the newer student of Scripture, it gives a treasure trove of insight to what can, at first glance, seem so simple. For those hungry for more of Jesus, to spend more time in His footsteps, to know more of who He is, to experience and see His Kingdom, you will find food for you soul in these pages.
Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.