Gospels Week 5: Parables (Seeds & Virgins)

Reading

The Parable of the Seed (Matthew 4:26–29)

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–12)

Questions

  • Why teach in parables?
  • Why is Jesus obsessed with seeds?  

Today we read three parables in our first week on Jesus’s parable teaching: the Seed, the Mustard Seed (apparently a different seed?) and the Ten Virgins. Jesus teaches in kind of opaque, short stories, a technique that’s mysterious but also highly effective (“Jesus was a freaking genius,” says Azazel).

The Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26–29)

  • Apparently the Kingdom of God is a natural, inevitable process?
  • Are we the seeds?
  • There are some indications of different forms of land use; where in the Hebrew Bible the focus was very much on shepherding, herding, etc., here we have a lot more agricultural imagery. Perhaps we’re seeing even more of the Israelite movement from being pastoralists primarily to being more urban and agrarian…
  • Azazel points out that this could be interpreted as a cool retelling of the Garden of Eden story: where faith grew naturally in Eden, it now must be cultivated.
    • We also learn that in Hebrew, there aren’t as many abstract nouns, so the “Kingdom of God” is really more like the “Rule of God.”
  • Where in agriculture you have to plant seeds very carefully, Jesus is talking about a scattering of seeds, so there’s still some idea that faith will naturally support the seeds once they are planted.
  • Is God reality? big questions.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30–32, and in others)

  • Azazel compares this parable to an excerpt of Hindu scripture (the Upanishad), where the great banyan tree is present even in the smallest part of the smallest seed.
    • also a cool way of understanding DNA… just saying…
  • In some ways this parable fosters a sense of nihilism, but it might also be the opposite: we aren’t small, we contain multitudes!
  • The word parabola literally means a scattering…

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–12)

  • Lucifer is fascinated by this one. The Apocalypse could come at any time, so we have to be ready! We have to “keep awake” (an idea unfortunately very alive in U.S. politics at the moment)
  • Who’s the bridegroom? Is it God, or Jesus, or what? The Church is often figured as a kind of female figure / bride, with Jesus as “her” groom.
  • What does it mean to acknowledge that the Messiah might come through any moment in time? What kind of vigilance does that require?
  • Virginity, wombs, control of reproduction…
  • Azazel notes that Jesus freaking loves food. Jesus would totally come back as a foodie!
    • Does eating human food make Jesus human in a way? A fun collaborative book idea for Azazel and Lucifer. Devils unite!

Takeaways:

Jesus isn’t the most straightforward teacher. He is also his own greatest hype man. Except for maybe Paul?

Image: “The Ten Virgins,” from Plain Ministrries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s