When I tell stories, or use illustrations, to clarify biblical truth in my sermons, I’m often told that even the kids understand them. Telling stories is the primary method that Jesus used to communicate truth to his listeners.  I expect that even some of the youngest kids in his audiences were able to understand much of what he taught while many adults would miss the point. Jesus explained that he often taught in stories because “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Mental blindness and deafness is one of the most devastating effects of sin. Many people may hear the same story, parable, and come away with different responses. Everyone will acknowledge that the Christmas story is a beautiful story. It’s eloquent, imaginative and interesting. It will be told in thousands of churches across this country in the weeks ahead, yet many will not see the significance and will miss the personal point of application. It is the same today as it was in Jesus’ day. I’m occasional told how appropriate my sermon was for some absent person. I always wonder if it touched them. We hear and yet don’t get it. We see, yet don’t perceive. It’s part of our fallen nature. We tend to hear what we want to hear, and we tend to see what we want to see. We become so single focused that we miss the point. There are some fascinating pictures that are drawn in such a way that we tend to see it only one way. But the truth is, it has something more to it than meets the eye. We tend to see what we want to see. Can you see the baby in this picture? (www.chucklarsen.com)

The secret is to look at the picture in a different way. When we learn to think outside the box, or to look outside the framework of what immediately meets the eye, we can see it from a new perspective. This is why Jesus taught in parables. A parable is a picture that must be looked at in various ways to get the message. The value of a good story, or parable, is that they have a way of sneaking past the defenses of the heart and striking us with previously unseen truth. At the same time, the truths are hidden from those who cannot change their focus. They will always see just what they want to see and nothing more. The Story of Christmas is about my sinfulness, God’s love, His sacrifice, and my redemption! God so loved me, that He sent the most perfect present of all times; His own son to die for my sins.

“With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.” Mark 4:33