January 26, 2006

Of Lightning Flashes, Parables and Lamp-stands

Have you ever been in a thunderstorm and experienced the effect of lightning flashing and, for a split second, everything is illuminated? You can see that which was concealed by darkness around you.

If you’re weird like me you might have artificially recreated this effect in a dark bedroom by flicking the light on and off quickly. The interesting effect there is the image is often times burned in your brain for a short while enabling you to get around and avoid obstacles even though darkness has once again enveloped everything --- you remember what the room was like in the light, and can in effect see through the darkness.

Sometimes I get those little flashes from God, making everything clearer, exposing wonderful things --- or sometimes stuff I’d rather have been left in the dark. Those moments help me get around in the dim times of life by remembering what it looked like in the light.

Jesus talked about this concept to, although in a slightly different manor --- in fact it seemed to be one of Jesus’ favorite analogies.

In Mark 4:21-25 Jesus appears to be answering an (unstated) question from His disciples in regards to His use parables (this can be implied from Luke 8:9-15.) Jesus seeks to convey that although the parables are less direct and mysterious at times that “… nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.” The Amplified Bible translates the verse like this …

[Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation.] For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything [temporarily] kept secret except in order that it may be made known.

In other words, Jesus isn’t telling His disciples parables to deliberately obscure the Truth --- quite the opposite. While it might be temporally hidden, or hard to see, the end result is to illuminate whole the truth, not hide it. This is paralleled, and heightened by the “messianic” mystery of Jesus’ own identity.

But Jesus wouldn’t be lighting a lamp of parables just to place them under a bowl (which would extinguish the flame) or hide them under a bed or couch where they would be useless. No, just as the lamp lit and put on the stand illuminates the room --- parables shed light and illuminate the words of Jesus.

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