The Art of Storytelling from Jesus
Professor Matthew Whitlock
UCOR 2100 09
October 18, 2020
The art of storytelling from Jesus
Jesus is God, who assumed the form of a man who came to earth to save mankind from sin. Different people have different understandings about who Jesus is. Jesus is love, and that love came from God when He sent him to earth to save man. Jesus is obedient to his father by accepting to come down and take man’s form and later die for our sins. He was humble in his relationship with fellow men. He never used his powers to take advantage of the people but instead used it to help them. In his mission, Jesus used so many ways to teach the people. He was particularly very good at storytelling. What inspired the art of storytelling in the teachings of Jesus? How did he formulate his teachings through parables and teachings so well? How did these stories help him attract thousands of people in the crowd? The research aims at showing the inspiration behind the application of storytelling by Jesus, how he formulated his teachings, and how the stories helped him attract the attention of the people.
Section 1: The Gospel of Mark
The use of parables by Jesus in his teachings was a fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned in the book of Psalms. Jesus also taught in parables because of the opposition that he faced from the covenant people. At some point, the disciples of Jesus asked him why he taught them using parables, and Jesus answered them, “the mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside, everything comes in parables” (Mark 4:11).’ The verse means that those outsiders had to deduce the mystery of the kingdom of God for themselves. Jesus used parables in almost all his teachings. Some of these include the parable of the Lamp (Mark 4: 21), the parable of the sower (Mark4:3), and the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30), among others. Jesus indirectly communicated the lesson that he wanted to teach the people in these parables. Whenever he noticed something among the crowd, he would tell a parable so that the people would know what lesson he was trying to give. In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells the story of a sower who went out to sow, and the seeds fell in different types of soils, and the results were different. Here, Jesus had noticed that among the crowd that came to him for teachings, some were serious and those who were not. The seeds represent God’s word, and the different types of soils represent different types of Christians to whom the word has different impacts. This art enabled Jesus to attract many people because people love stories. Also, the people would marvel at the way Jesus knew some of these things. It was easy for Jesus to point out the evil in the crowd, and the people would be surprised at his intelligence that exceeded human understanding.
Section 2: Powell on the Gospel of Mark
In the Gospel of Mark, Powell also holds the same view that the art of storytelling by Jesus helped him attract and reach many people. People would come to listen to the teachings of Jesus to hear his stories. The inspiration behind the art of storytelling, according to Powell (1), is because Jesus was not supposed to teach people openly. It was also a way of saving time because Jesus had limited time to introduce a lot of things. Jesus wanted to use live examples that people would relate to, such as the lamp’s parable. A lamp is something that many can relate to, and they knew that if it were placed under the shade, it would not give light. The parables, therefore, made it easier for people to understand his teachings. According to Powell (2), Jesus in the gospel of mark did not want to directly counter the evils in the society or tell people that doing this was wrong. He wanted the people to find this out for themselves. He did not want to be regarded as authoritative. The art of storytelling and incorporating his teachings in the parables would, therefore, enable Jesus to teach while at the same time helping him to avoid troubles with the authorities.
The Gospel of Mathew
The book of Mathew also shows how Jesus used storytelling and parables in delivering a message to win more souls in the crowd. There are various parables in the gospel of Mathew, including the parable of the sower (Mathew 13:3-9), and the story is easy to understand, and apart from understanding it literally, Jesus had a spiritual purpose, and the story puzzled disciples. Jesus used storytelling objectively to ensure that the crowd relates their day-to-day activities to spiritual matters and captures their attention. Using parables in his teachings, Jesus wanted to give people what they can handle because the crowd involves the believers and non-believers, and the goal is to ensure everyone gets the message. The parable of the weed (Mathew 13:24-30) is the teaching where Jesus relates the kingdom of heaven and a man that sowed good seed in his field. Jesus expounds the parable further in Mathew 13:37-43 by stating that the good seeds are the disciples spread globally to serve God’s purpose in spreading the word. The weeds are evildoers and bad people that spread the news about the devil and undermine God’s authority. God’s kingdom starts as a seed and grows bigger and better, and it is known that Satan is active in the world, and just like any other weed, they never produce fruit or grain.
The parable of hidden treasures (Mathew 13:44) and it illustrates the great value of God’s kingdom where Jesus relates the kingdom with a hidden treasure in the field. The parables make the teachings enjoyable and create the urge from the crowd to understand it better. The information in the form of parables can be retained and narrated without strain compared to direct teachings. The kingdom of God was related to small and hidden shows that the chosen and dedicated few who are ready to surrender everything else and seek God would succeed.
Storytelling was Jesus’s favorite technique when speaking to the crowd and communicating spiritual truth. (Mathew 13:34) indicates that Jesus spoke all the things to the public in parables and could not say anything to them without using a parable. Jesus told stories to help people understand complex concepts. The stories were about people and things they could identify with, such as kings, beggars and farmers. The teachings of Jesus through parables show that he was a master storyteller and teacher. Jesus emphasized that he who had ears would hear after telling his stories to ensure that people would reflect on the message and moral lesson of each parable he said.
Why Jesus Used Parables/storytelling
Parabolic literature used in the bible, especially in Mark and Mathew’s gospel and other books in the Old Testament, is to compare the teachings and familiarize with everyday life for a deeper understanding. It is argued that it is not enough for a believer to only read scriptures but requires more of meditation, which is achieved through trying to understand parables that make them more keen and interested. Jesus used parables characterized by deeply rooted stories filled with God’s mysteries that allow the people/crowd to meditate and understand better and attract more believers. Jesus used the parables and storytelling as a fulfillment of the prophet’s words and fulfilling the mysteries from the foundation of the world, as stated in (Psalm 78:2-4). Parables is a storytelling technique used by Jesus and has remained relevant in teaching moral lessons and opens people’s hearts to discover God’s justice and mercy. Jesus used parables to ensure that the crowd learns to hear and see (Mathew 13:11-13) to understand his kingdom, and the storytelling attracts many believers trying to understand more. It is believed that God challenges believers in studying his message and the use of parables in Jesus’ teachings was to prepare the roots and seeds for survival and fruitfulness.
In conclusion, the teachings of Jesus were dominated by storytelling/parables to understand the message clearly. Most of the parables used to refer to the God’s teachings are about the people’s day to day activities that make them relate well, and the relevance has continued because the activities are still there to date. Parables were meant to provide a better understanding of the word of God.
1. Powell, Mark Allan. Fortress introduction to the Gospels
2. Allan. The Gospels.
3. Grace Communion International. Matthew 13: Parables of the Kingdom
4. Crow. Why did Jesus use parables?
Crow, E. (2019). Why did Jesus use parables?. Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://journalnow.com/news/columnists/why-did-jesus-use-parables/article_ddafef17-353c-5b75-a1cc-27816ccefa38.html#:~:text=This%20point%20is%20very%20true,the%20foundation%20of%20the%20world.
Grace Communion International. (2020). Matthew 13: Parables of the Kingdom | Grace Communion International. Grace Communion International. Retrieved 2 October 2020, from https://www.gci.org/articles/matthew-13-parables-of-the-kingdom/.
OFFICIAL KING JAMES BIBLE ONLINE. (2020). Retrieved 20 September 2020, from https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
Powell, Mark Allan. Fortress introduction to the Gospels. Fortress Press, 2019. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7MSHDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=Fortress+Introduction+to+the+Gospels&ots=nShiqWbz6u&sig=akyGHFS_oAXirX9l3en73jFQ-vw
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