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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Purpose of Parables

English: "Holyland" brand matzah, ma...
English: "Holyland" brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   Jesus taught using parables. The Disciples asked him why he used this method. Sometimes I wonder, too. Some parables are  hard to understand, but Jesus was insistent on using them. The story of the woman who put yeast in flour sounds simple, but their are depths here that many do not grasp. I have heard it interpreted to mean that the message of the Gospels will permeate the world, but I don't think that is what Jesus meant to say.

Yeast was considered a contaminating influence. Most of the meal offerings were required to be made without yeast. The wave offering and the thank offering were made with yeast because God accepted men with their frailties, but the bread offered at the feasts that required a blood sacrifice must not be leavened (Exodus 23:18). Since a portion of the yeast from previous batch of dough was used to leaven the new dough, it was considered common.

When I made unleavened bread, I read recipes from Jewish cooks and cookbooks. The dough was made quickly because yeast is everywhere, in the air, in the kitchen, on the utensils. From the time liquid touches the flour till it is in the oven cannot be more than 18 minutes. That is how long it takes for the yeast to become active. I had to make dough and roll it out quickly and get it into the hot oven in less than 18 minutes to have true unleavened bread. It was harder when I cooked it in a skillet on top of the stove because I couldn't cook but one of the large flat breads at a time.

Back to the original thought about the use of parables: Jesus may have chosen parables as a method because the image generated in the story is persistent and stays in the mind and heart of the hearer. He wanted his listeners to return to the message in the future, to dwell on it as they went to sleep, to consider it while they worked in the fields or in the kitchen, to uncover the deeper meanings in private moments.
A kind of unleavened bread called "Podpło...
A kind of unleavened bread called "Podpłomyk" in Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus quotes Isaiah describing the people as calloused of heart, neither seeing nor hearing nor understanding the teachings of Jesus or the Word of God. He teaches in parables to overcome this block in their minds. Are we still so blind and deaf? Are we missing the message as they did?