Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hear Then The Parable

I thought as an Easter devotion I'd work my way through the parables. My intention is not so much to study them as to hear them. I know my hearing will be clouded by my preconceptions, and certainly by the commentaries on the parables I've read in the past. I also know that I'll slip into intellectual analysis as I go. But my intention is simply to hear the parables and kind of groove on them. We'll see how it goes.

I'm starting with Mark 4:

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables....
This is a fascinating image. People are crowding around Jesus, so he gets in a boat. Mark's gospel is full of accounts of Jesus and the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee by boat, leaving crowds behind. The image here is particularly vivid. Jesus sits in the boat, near the shore, while a crowd of people stands on the shore listening to him.

I can picture myself there. The water presents a barrier that keeps me where I am, but it's a soft barrier. As I strain to hear, will I venture out into the water a little? Perhaps, but there's a limit to how far I can go. The water separates us. For me the water is a barrier, but not for Jesus. He's on the water.

But he's not going anywhere. He's staying near, teaching.


LutheranChik said...

I've always been intrigued by that scene, with Jesus in the boat. I've always thought that maybe it was so that he could make a quick getaway in case the crowds got too rowdy.;-) As happened more than once.

Andy said...

I thought about the getaway too.

Generally, it strikes me as a good metaphor for the spiritual life. Jesus is sitting in a boat, just offshore, teaching. While we stand on the shore listening, and all the time we're afraid he's going to row away and leave us there. It takes quite a bit of faith to believe that he's not going anywhere.