The Words or the Message

Have you ever wondered what the real reason that Jesus spoke in parables was? Could it have something to do with people understanding the message more than the words?
Remember that the purpose of words is to relay a message, what is important is not so much the words written or even spoken but the message that is trying to be communicated. I believe this is why Jesus spoke in parables. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words and God wants us to get the picture He is trying to paint in our hearts!
What I have seen over the years is that people will often debate and argue over words written in scripture and in doing so miss the whole point that God is trying to get across. These arguments usually result in divisions and separatisms amongst believers. Let us not be so literal (letter of the law) and try to understand the message trying to be relayed.

2Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
(AMP) Remind [the people] of these facts and [solemnly] charge them in the presence of the Lord to avoid petty controversy over words, which does no good but upsets and undermines the faith of the hearers.
(GNB) Remind your people of this, and give them a solemn warning in God’s presence not to fight over words. It does no good, but only ruins the people who listen.

Clarke’s Commentary states: That they strive not about words – Words, not things, have been a most fruitful source of contention in the Christian world; and among religious people, the principal cause of animosity has arisen from the different manner of apprehending the same term, while, in essence, both meant the same thing. All preachers and divines should be very careful, both in speaking and writing, to explain the terms they use, and never employ them in any sense but that in which they have explained them.

Matthew 23:23-24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Probably the prime example of missing the message and being caught up in words is found in the 2000 year debate over the divinity of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus God or just the Son of God? This was the thrust of the debate of the council of Nicaea in 325 AD, trying to deal with this topic which had split the church in two.

God’s purpose in Jesus was to express Himself (His love) and His message to the world. God’s message was not necessarily the words of Jesus but rather the life of Jesus. Jesus Christ was God’s message, God’s words, God’s love, God’s law, God’s purpose and intent for mankind wrapped up in human flesh! This is why Jesus did not tell people to focus on His words or teaching but rather taught people to focus on Himself!

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2 Replies to “The Words or the Message”

  1. Look at the OT command that a farmer bringing in his crop of grain has to leave the edges unharvested and what falls to the ground for the poor.

    Looking at the letter most would tell you that if you were into wine you could well harvest everything, while looking at it with a more picture based, Hebrew world view one would easily recognize this to be an example: leave some of your crop, fruit, gain, earnings, production, profit, receipts, return, income, output for people in need.

    I find it interesting when I read: go therefore and do likewise. It does not say: do the same. Having a picture painted in front of my eyes, it is much easier to see adaptations to my situation than when just following words.

    Arguing over words will automatically lead me to narrow down the applicability of a biblical principle as I take the situation and placing of the story too literal.

    Yet this will make it even more important to know about the environment and culture that something was spoken in. First understand what the picture meant to them, and then adapt to what it tells me for today. But be not afraid, having the Holy Spirit not everybody has to become a Hebrew scholar. The Holy Spirit will paint pictures in front of your eyes that you will understand.

    But let me make an example for cultural interpretation of a picture. Look at Jesus’ birth. There is – with very few but broad strokes – a picture painted we all interpreted from our culture.

    There was no room for Josef and Mary in the inn. Jesus was born in a manger. Today, an inn is a dedicated building for hosting tourists and travellers, while a manger is located in a barn or stable. Not so in Jesus’ time. The word translated “inn” is later used to describe a guestroom, especially the upper room Jesus had the last supper with his disciples, while there usually was a manger in the main room on first floor for the valuable animals that were taken into the house during the night. So the guest room upstairs was packed, and Jesus was born downstairs.

    What is the difference between those two pictures: in a modern world view, Jesus was born set apart, almost lonely, and not received well in this world, while the culturally probably more fitting second picture shows him being born in the midst of his family. This view puts much more emphasis on relationship and places Jesus right in the midst of what is going on.

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