by Jeanette O'Hagan
On the Shores of Galilee
One day, Jesus is speaking to a crowded house when the cry goes up, ‘Jesus, your mother, sisters and brothers are outside. They want to talk to you.’
Jesus stops, looks around at the hushed listeners. Perhaps the crowd expect him to dismiss them and rush outside and offer his family refreshments. They expect him to invite his family in and spend time with them. But he doesn’t, or at least, not at first. Perhaps because he knew his family feared he’d was crazy and they had come to take him home. Instead, he says to the crowd, ‘Who is my family? You are, if you do God’s will.’
Later that day, Jesus asks a disciple to push a boat out into the gently lapping waters of Lake Galilee. He settles down on the sun-bleached deck and spends several hours telling stories about sowing seeds, growing plants, treasures in fields, and fishing nets.
Jesus spoke in parables – stories or word images – that conveyed deeper truths of the Kingdom. Was his family among the people crowding around the shore to hear each word? Or where they back in the house fretting because he wasn't packing to come home? Perhaps.
As the day draws to the close. Jesus sums up:
"Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." Matt 13:52 NIV
The scribes were versed in the Law – the Old Covenant – while Jesus brings a new understanding and a new work and a new relationship with God in the New Covenant.
Matthew Henry explains it this way:
"... a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year's gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Old experiences and new observations, all have their use. Our place is at Christ's feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also." Matthew 13, Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry (cited in Biblehub).
While this passage has deep theological truths about the relationship of Old and New Testaments (or Covenants) and perhaps the nature of theology itself and our walk with Jesus, I’d like to draw two related points.
Jesus the Storyteller
Firstly, the importance of storytelling in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus didn’t always use stories (parables) but it does seem his preferred way of engaging the sceptical crowds, hooking their interest, drawing them in with stories about farming, running a household or kingdom, or about family life - stories that they could all relate to. No doubt some of these stories were based on actual occurrences or regular activities but others probably weren’t or they used symbolism rather than realism to make his point. And often that point was subtle – not immediately obvious, requiring explanation or reflection to understand fully.
Last Year's Growth; this Year's Gathering
Secondly, at the beginning of 2017, perhaps we too could be like the householder ‘who brings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year's gathering’.
We look at the old – the past.
For many, 2016 has been a bad year, a disturbing year, a year full of strife and uncertainty. We’ve had a swag of much loved celebrities’ deaths; there seems to be greater division between different viewpoints and ideas about what’s important in our society & less ability to engage in reasoned debate; there’s been terrorist attacks and horrific wars and an overwhelming refugee crisis. Dark clouds seem to wreath the horizon.
Despite this gloomy picture – much good has happened too. While the media loves to major on the negative (the disasters, conflicts and controversies), we need to remember that God is seated on the throne, that He works all things for good. He flips the script, so that what was meant for evil ultimately accomplishes His plans for good. God asks us to be faithful, to be beacons of His love and goodness and light - and to believe.
For some of you 2016 has been a tough year personally. For others, it may have been a great year or a mixed year. But even in the worst years, God is still at work in our lives – and showers us many good gifts that we often take for granted, not least His presence.
One of my highest spiritual moments, when I was swept up in an exhilarating experience of God’s deep love and bountiful joy, came at one of my lowest points - after thing after thing after thing went wrong. And while my circumstances didn’t change instantly, the wonderful sense of His presence was enough. Without the low point, would I have experienced that high? Maybe not.
Like the householder, we can look at what the year has brought us and, through it all, thank God for the many good gifts He has given us.
And when we look at even our difficult times with gratitude, we can also see the new things He wishes to do in, through, and for us. Only after my attitude changed was I able to walk through into the future God had been offering me but I'd been too jaded to accept.
Let’s be open to new treasures as well as old.
So I challenge you to prayerfully make some lists:
So I challenge you to prayerfully make some lists:
Five things that I can be grateful from 2016
Five hope or dreams that God has laid on my heart for 2017
If you feel comfortable, share a couple of the new and old in the comments below.
Oh, and by the way, I was tickled to notice that after Jesus finished his storytelling, he went home with his family - at least for a season but that didn't stop him from completing his God-given mission. He honoured the old while giving space to the new.
"When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown." Matt 13:53, 54a, NIV
Wishing you all a wonderful, faith-filled, adventurous 2017
Images © Jeanette O'Hagan
Jeanette O’Hagan first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.
Jeanette is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. She recently launched Heart of the Mountain: a short novella and The Herbalist's Daughter: a short story. Other short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl.
Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.
You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites JennysThread.com or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .