Stories are good. Everyone
loves a good story. When my twin sons were very
small, they loved a bed time story. After outgrowing
the Three Bears and Red Riding Hood, they still
wanted some tale to be told. I started telling them
the story of a young star fighter named Luke
Skywalker and his arch enemy Darth Vader. For a
year, my sons thought I made that story up. If fact,
one night after a telling of Skywalker destroying
the death star, my son Matt hugged me and said,
“Dad, you are the best story teller ever.” Shhhh!
don’t tell them…they still don’t know.
Regardless, when we talk about
the best story tellers ever, Jesus would certainly
be on that list. He is well remembered for his
sermons, no question. That one about “turn the other
cheek” and “go the extra mile,” for example can
really cause some self examination. But some of his
words that best sticks in your mind are the stories,
The Good Samaritan . . . the Prodigal Son … the Lost
Sheep, and so on. This is probably why Jesus liked
to tell stories.
All of Jesus’ stories address
spiritual issues in a way that (a) isn’t boring, (b)
sticks in your mind, and (c) challenges you to think
Take the Prodigal Son, for
example. The religious leaders were getting deeply
stressed with Jesus for hanging out with the
“spiritually unclean” (such as prostitutes and tax
collectors). Their attitude was: God doesn’t like
them and neither should we.
Jesus explained why he spent
time with them by standing up, clearing his throat,
and begins telling a story: the son abandons his
father, squanders his money, and ends up on the
skids, cleaning out pig pens (and remembers, pigs
were themselves seen as unclean animals). The son
eventually crawls back home when he’s broke and had
nowhere else to go.
Does the father give him a good
smack down and send him packing? No, he is ecstatic
and throws a huge party for him. Meanwhile the older
brother who has stuck by dad religiously all these
years has a big sulk, because his black-sheep
brother doesn’t deserve this special treatment. The
story teller sits down.