Please welcome author Cheri Cowell…
Our tour guide almost casually offered the words that nearly knocked me off my feet. “The stones upon which you are walking are the stones where Jesus could have walked.” I stopped in midstride and looked down at my sneakers. We stood in Jerusalem before the remains of the entrance to the Second Temple known today as Robinson’s Arch. Quickly I snapped a picture—of my feet. For days I’d traveled with my small group of Christian journalists through the Holy Land, and through the Bible. As we traveled, story after story came to life for me. Now, as I stood on the very stones where my Lord could have walked, the thought came to my mind, Jesus not only shared parables, He was a parable, a living parable.
The parables of Jesus number around forty, and when parable word-pictures (images such as when Jesus says “I am the Gate”) and parable sequels (such as when Paul extends Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd to include teaching pastors to care for their flocks), are added, the number reaches closer to 120. As I toured Israel, it became clear to me that Jesus not only spoke in parables; He embodied a parable-shaped-life. The parables show us what it means to live as citizens of the new kingdom Jesus was inaugurating, and Jesus demonstrated this kingdom living in how He lived and died.
For instance, the Parable of the Good Samaritan taught the principles of love and answered the question “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus lived a life shaped by this parable as He loved and cared for those considered ‘outside’ of the acceptable, even to the point of laying down His life for His neighbors, which this parable teaches included His enemies. He not only told the parable, He lived it.
As followers of Jesus we’ve been invited to, likewise, live parable-shaped lives. Romans 8:29 says it this way, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” To be conformed to His image is a tall order and it does not occur at the snap of a reed. It is a process of removing the veil of sin and corruption (read 2 Cor. 3:13-24 for more), and replacing it with God’s glory, which studying and applying the lessons of the parables can do for us. In this way, we, too, become living parables to a world that is dying to ‘see God.’ When we live story-shaped lives—lives shaped by God’s story—we become the first pages some people have ever read about God.
This is the exciting and challenging life to which we, as followers after the Greatest Living Parable, are called. Touring the Holy Land is something every believer should have on his or her list (visit my website to read about the Parables Tour I’m hosting in 2014), but for those who never get that opportunity, you and I become that opportunity because we’ve been fashioned through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to be His image bearers in this world. May we prove worthy of the ‘read.’
How is your life parable-shaped?
Are the pages of your life a good introduction to Christ?
What concrete steps can you take to remove the veil of sin that has corrupted and replace it with God’s glory?
What is your favorite parable and how has it shaped your witness?
Cheri Cowell is the author of the Following God™ Bible study, Parables and Word Pictures From the New Testament.
To learn more about Cheri, visit her website http://www.CheriCowell.com.
Connect through Facebook or Twitter /CheriCowell.