I’m super-excited about this next series! I’ve wanted to re-write one of the parables of Jesus for quite a while, and I think I’m finally ready to tackle this challenge…and I’m going to need your help!
Jesus communicated significant theological principles through simple, memorable stories. The Problem: His audiences lived 2,000 years ago in a Near Eastern agrarian society. Our Challenge: Reconstructing a parable so we can understand them as Jesus’ original audiences would have.
The phrase “first understanding” refers to a near-subconscious recognition and understanding of a literary device or story. For example, if I start a story with, “Once upon a time…” you instinctively know a fairy tale is coming. When Jesus told His parables, His audiences would have instinctively understood many nuances we miss today…and that’s where the fun and challenging part of reconstructing a parable comes in!
I chose the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9) because no matter how many times I read it, and no matter how many bad sermons I hear on it, I always walk away confused. I believe the reason is because I (we) are missing some of the nuance that Jesus’ audience grasped at the “first understanding”, subconscious level.
Over the next few days I’m going to work methodically through this parable in an attempt to deconstruct, then reconstruct, the story. My hope is that at the end of the process you and I will have a new understanding of, and appreciation for, this story. We’ll also have a great evangelical tool: A parable of Jesus written in contemporary language we can tell to anyone we meet, and they won’t need to understand Christianese!
Remember, I’m going to need lots of audience participation…I’m really looking forward to this interactive exercise with you all!