Have you ever gotten lost in a good book? I mean a really good book. It’s almost as if you can’t put it down. Any free moment you have, you are reaching for that book in order to find out what’s next. Perhaps you are somewhat like me, and you like to try to figure it all out before it actually happens. You like to guess what the author is doing in the story and how it’s all going to end. And again, if you’re like me, you’re often wrong.
Maybe you don’t read regularly, but you can get this same type of experience watching a movie or listening to a new song. There is likely something that the author/director/musician says early in the story that hooks you. At that point, you must know how it ends.
This is precisely what we see Jesus doing when he speaks in parables. Whether speaking to a small group of disciples or a large crowd gathered around, Jesus seeks to draw them (and us) in with something they know in order to point them to a much more grand and fulfilling storyline: The Gospel.
For instance, one day a man was walking through a field and stumbled upon a treasure of seemingly infinite value. Now he’s at a crossroads: Does he take it? Does he talk with some friends to get their advice? If so, would they want a portion? Does he leave it uncovered and pretend that he never saw it? Of course not! This is a treasure that he simply must have. The only thing he knows is that this treasure is worth more than everything he owns. “In his joy,” Jesus says, “he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt. 13:44). This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. It is worth infinitely more than anything we could possibly possess. Those who realize its value will sell all they have in this earthly kingdom (possessions, status, image) in order to gain everything Christ offers them in his heavenly kingdom.
This year’s student ministry Fall Retreat is titled, “παραβολές: Finding the story within the story.” παραβολές is the Greek word for parables. We are inviting all students to join us October 24-25 as we study three key parables of Jesus. Now, to be sure, we will have all the same activities that we normally do. We’ll make a bonfire, s’mores, play capture the flag, and probably eat more sugar than our parents would like. But more importantly, we’ll explore how Jesus uses stories to call us into his own story and, hopefully, we will all realize that the message of the Gospel is indeed worth abundantly more than our very lives. May we sell all that we have in order that we might live for him.