Sounding Stupid

Question marksFriday, June 12, 2015

Mark 4:26-34

“With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” (Mark 4:33-34)

 

When I hear this passage, I can just see the disciples smiling and nodding, nodding and smiling the whole time Jesus speaks in parables to the crowd.

 

 

And then, the minute they have Jesus alone…

 

 

The mustard seed isn’t the smallest seed on earth, why did you say that? Mustard plants don’t have branches that large, is this some new hybrid strain? Why compare the kingdom of God to a weed?  Why not cedar trees?

 

Why birds? Why not sheep?

 

We were fishermen, do you want us to start farming now? What on earth does this mean for us?  For them?

 

Are you saying we should eat more mustard?

 

 

I wish that the disciples had felt more comfortable asking their questions right there, in front of God and everybody—no matter how stupid they might feel. It would set a good example for the rest of us.

 

 

To be honest about having questions, to celebrate curiosity, to cultivate contemplation, to be able to change one’s mind, to admit that you’ve been wrong and to acknowledge that you will be wrong again…somehow these things have gotten a bad rap in popular culture.

 

 

Faith has been confused with certainty…the scriptures with a catalogue of answers…Jesus’ teaching with a how-to guide.

 

 

In the media, a “Christian” position on everything from wedding catering to earthquakes is quoted faster than you can say “knee-jerk.”

 

 

And yet, here is Jesus speaking to the world and his disciples in parables. It is through these tricky, confusing, strange parables that Jesus chooses to speak of the Kingdom of God. And the more time we spend with parables the more we can see that Jesus knows exactly what he’s doing.

 

 

In a black and white world, the parables are always muddying everything up, making it clear that God’s word, God’s kingdom, God’s Son is always more surprising, more challenging, more life-giving than we had first thought.

 

 

Parables take a straight-forward situation and turn it on its ear, causing us to look again, and this time from a different perspective.

 

 

In the face of common sense the parables sound stupid. And that nonsense just might make us second guess what we’ve held to be true.

 

 

So if we are paying any attention to parables at all---we should have questions. Lots of questions. And that should leaves us wondering, where do we turn when we are looking for answers?

 

 

To Jesus, of course—just as the disciples did.

Pastor Sarah

 

 

“With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” (Mark 4:33-34)

When I hear this passage, I can just see the disciples smiling and nodding, nodding and smiling the whole time Jesus speaks in parables to the crowd.

And then, the minute they have Jesus alone…

The mustard seed isn’t the smallest seed on earth, why did you say that? Mustard plants don’t have branches that large, is this some new hybrid strain? Why compare the kingdom of God to a weed?  Why not cedar trees?

Why birds? Why not sheep?

We were fishermen, do you want us to start farming now? What on earth does this mean for us?  For them?

Are you saying we should eat more mustard?

I wish that the disciples had felt more comfortable asking their questions right there, in front of God and everybody—no matter how stupid they might feel. It would set a good example for the rest of us.

To be honest about having questions, to celebrate curiosity, to cultivate contemplation, to be able to change one’s mind, to admit that you’ve been wrong and to acknowledge that you will be wrong again…somehow these things have gotten a bad rap in popular culture.

Faith has been confused with certainty…the scriptures with a catalogue of answers…Jesus’ teaching with a how-to guide.

In the media, a “Christian” position on everything from wedding catering to earthquakes is quoted faster than you can say “knee-jerk.”

And yet, here is Jesus speaking to the world and his disciples in parables. It is through these tricky, confusing, strange parables that Jesus chooses to speak of the Kingdom of God. And the more time we spend with parables the more we can see that Jesus knows exactly what he’s doing.

In a black and white world, the parables are always muddying everything up, making it clear that God’s word, God’s kingdom, God’s Son is always more surprising, more challenging, more life-giving than we had first thought.


Parables take a straight-forward situation and turn it on its ear, causing us to look again, and this time from a different perspective.

In the face of common sense the parables sound stupid. And that nonsense just might make us second guess what we’ve held to be true.

So if we are paying any attention to parables at all---we should have questions. Lots of questions. And that should leaves us wondering, where do we turn when we are looking for answers?

To Jesus, of course—just as the disciples did.