And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man received sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: – Luke 15:2-3
When the Pharisees and scribes grumbled against Jesus, He didn’t respond with rebuttal or rebuke. Instead, He told them stories. When rebuttals or rebukes come our way, we tend to throw up our defenses to deflect them. Stories, however, often bypass our defenses to engage our hearts.
Jesus was a master of such storytelling. Jesus’ stories had a way of getting under people’s skin and often struck a nerve with His listeners. They hit close to home… and hearts. Listeners found themselves identifying with one or more of the characters. By the end of the story, the heart issues addressed in the story were clearly their own. That’s why Jesus’ stories sparked strong reactions.
The stories Jesus told were parables. Their purpose was to surface the spiritual heart condition of listeners and demand a response. Who would receive Him and His message? Who would resist?
In the coming days, we will listen to Jesus tell the third story of His trilogy. Listener beware! Storytime with Jesus is dangerous. His words may pierce your heart, like the scalpel of a skilled surgeon, to expose assumptions, attitudes and even animosity to God and His Word that you would rather not face.
For this we will need grace to listen with open and humble hearts. Grace to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Suggestions for prayer
Thank our Triune God for the way His Word exposes our hearts. Pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24.
Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.