Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were master storytellers. But then, they were taught by the Master.
I’ve begun reading scripture chronologically this fall as part of a Facebook group led by my friend Traci Rhoades (featured on my blog hop recently). We’re currently following Christ’s earthly ministry. A couple of weeks ago, our readings were steeped in story.
Mark’s gospel accounts are my favorites. A cousin of Barnabas, Mark was one of the first missionaries and his gospel was the first one recorded. Mark was close to Peter (it’s reported he was with him when he died) and his writings are said to include the very words of Christ, as reported to him by Peter.
The writings of Mark, when told in the language of Eugene Peterson’s The Message, create a wonderful example of story-telling. I’d like to share Christ’s gift of story with you today.
He went back to teaching by the sea. A crowd built up to such a great size that he had to get into an offshore boat, using the boat as a pulpit as the people pushed to the water’s edge. He taught by using stories, many stories.
“Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—
Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,
Whose ears are open but don’t understand a word,
Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”
He continued, “Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way. The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them.
“And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
“The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.
“But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”
Life stories knit us together, whether to family or to others who just need to know they are not alone. In these 31 days of October, I’ll be exploring the importance of STORY. You can read all 31 days by following the links under “31 Days of Story”. And, you can read blogs from other writers taking the #Write31Days challenge by visiting the website here.
Tomorrow: An Unexpected Life Story