“In fact, he taught only by illustrations (parables) in his public teaching.“ (Mark 4:34 – TLB). Thus was the ministry of Jesus. “The word parable signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning.” “He that has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9). It is taking simple or common objects to cast light on spirituality or religion. It has been well said of the parable that “truth embodied in a tale shall enter in at lowly doors.” It abounds in events and daily figures and is connected with two words the root meaning of which is “likeness.”
I was once worshipping on the front row of the church and saw two things connected with the platform and projector. These could be called parables. The first – an access hatch on the platform adjacent to the pulpit which covered the baptistery had been recently lifted and reset and the carpet nap was in the wrong direction and therefore showed darker than its surroundings. I asked two of the male singers to lift it for me and replace it the right way and sure enough it blended into the uniform colour of the platform carpet. The lord said to me, “It was in the right position but was facing in the wrong direction, like some leadership,” who are in the rightful setting but their vision can be in the wrong direction.
The second instance – as I looked at the two screens to read the worship words I noticed that one was out of focus – you could clearly read the words but the picture was elongated as it pushed past the edge of the screen. Again I sensed God speaking to me to the effect that “Vision should not only be clearly seen like the worship words, but also have boundaries, it should not over-sail like the songs on the screen.” Thus, vision must have a boundary lest it becomes fanaticism. It acts as a limitation that keeps it within focus and a fact of possibility.
Here is one parable which I think has great significance in today’s frenetic world. “One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration (parable) those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz” and he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth jar and set it on the table in front of him. He also produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class yelled, “Yes.” He replied, “Really?”
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached for a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.
Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point.
The truth of this allegory is, ‘If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.’ What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life, time with loved ones, your faith, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. Therefore, ask yourself this question, “What are the ‘big rocks’ in my life?” Then, put those in your jar first.