Jesus taught parables, not systematics

Straightforward propositional communication – which is precisely the kind that bombards us every day – leaves little room for mystery. It proclaims, “This is the truth,” reducing the mystery and wonder of Truth to concrete theological or philosophical statements. Parables, on the other hand, clearly point to the truth, but without violating the mystery of Truth. This allows each of us to experience the truth of Jesus’ words in a manner that’s personally meaningful and transformative.

Parables are very simple. They communicate to children as well as to scholars. And there was always something about children that Jesus loved. Once, when a group of children was brought to Jesus, he said, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This wasn’t an endorsement of childishness. Rather, Jesus was reminding all of us to honor the joy and awesome wonder of creation and creation’s God. Likewise, Jesus’ parables are childlike without being childish.

-John Michael Talbot, The Music of Creation, p.102

Jesus taught with parables, and even when he did explain them, his insight was not particularly thorough. You can’t read the Bible like systematic theology. Paul wrote some line-upon-line instruction in Romans, but even that isn’t near as propositional as we would like it to be sometimes. Would it have been nicer if Jesus had ivory tower talk that we could then reword for the popular masses? Well, since his was the only undarkened intellect to walk the face of the earth, I vote we stick with what he did say (parables), and not try too hard to explain them.

It only enhances or illuminates his words to a certain degree. After that, it diminishes his words with the flood of our own.