Monday, 2 January 2017

The New and the Old

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.

I find it encouraging that, as storytellers, we follow in Jesus’ footsteps. 

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:

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

Scripture cited Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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 or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .


  1. Great post Jenny. Loved the way you presented Jesus the story teller. Wouldn't it be awesome to sit at his feet and to listen to Him? Among many other blessings I am grateful to God for special moments of intimacy with Jesus in 2016. I believe I've grown in my walk with Him and such treasures are priceless. One dream God has laid on my heart for 2017 is to write a book to encourage those with chronic illness. There's lots more good things to reflect on from 2016 and to carry me with me into the New Year. I hope to do that prayerfully as soon as I have a a day or two on my own. :) Thanks so much Jenny for leading us into the New Year with your inpsiring words. I wish you every blessing on your own writing journey and a healthy blessed 365 days of WRITING and LIVING.

    1. Thanks Anusha - yes, wouldn't it be fabulous to seat at Jesus' feet and listen. I often wonder what that would be like. I know there have been struggles but blessings as well for you in 2016. I love the idea of a book for those with chronic illness. Praying for you that 2017 will one of healing and reaching God-given goals. xx

  2. Thanks for an inspiring post, Jenny. It is good to reflect on the many blessings of the past year, as well as to look to the things that could be different in 2017. I'm grateful for a lot of writing events in the past year - the Margie Lawson immersion class, the Omega conference, the growth of the Toowoomba chapter of Omega, the support and friendship of the Quirky Quills and my wonderful hubby (and licks and cuddles from my dogs).

    My big writing dream for 2017 is to finish editing the novel and actually submit it. I also need to get back on the decluttering wagon and look forward to putting more time into our Toowoomba Omega chapter. And most of all, desiring to become more of the person God wants me to be.

    Happy New Year everyone. It will be amazing to look back on this year and see what God has done :)

    1. Blessed to inspire. Love your points of gratitude - Margie and the Conference were highlights for me too - plus the retreat in May. Great dream for 2017 - looking forward to it becoming a reality. Happy New Year.

  3. Ah Jesus. I long to be more like him! One of the things I'm thankful for is His transforming work in my life.
    As part of my New Year reflections I was challenged to write down my times of joy in 2016. For a while I couldn't think of one. But I knew that wasn't the truth! Eventually I listed 10. After that I wrote 50 things I was grateful for. I need to this more often!

    1. Hi Jo - so true, His transforming work is foundational. I love that from none you found 50 things to be grateful for even though it has been such a tough year. Praying for healing for your precious granddaughter - and that 2017 will be a good year for you and your family.

  4. I'm thankful for my supportive family. We've all stuck together through 2016 and helped each other with our own individual struggles. It has been especially thrilling to see my daughter begin to mature into the wise and godly woman I can see she will eventually become.

    I'm grateful for my day job. I made substantial progress during 2016. When I look at where the software was in January, and where it is now, I realise how much has been achieved.

    I am grateful a lot of progress made on writing projects - much of which will pay off during 2017.

    I am looking forward to the release of the first episode of my Space Opera, plus, hopefully a few subsequent episodes in 2017.

    I am seeing myself spending more time in the Bible this year. I'd gotten pretty negligent toward the end of last year.

    I pray God will help me find better ways to deal with my Autistic son, because this has been a real challenge lately.

  5. Some wonderful things to be joyful about and some great goals, Adam. Looking forward to seeing your publications in 2017 and praying with you on the spiritual and family challenges.

  6. Thanks for sharing these thoughts Jeanette, I've always loved that verse in Matthew 13:52 and how it can be applied to writers.

    1. Thanks Susan. And yes, it's great to have that affirmation to our calling :)

  7. Oh, Jenny. This is powerful. I think if we concentrate too much on the bad stuff, we will never get anywhere. We'll stay rutted in the sorrows. We can't enjoy God's blessings like that. And of course, one of the greatest blessings is that time spent in His presence. But you sure can't worship when you're in the valley. But that is when you feel Him working and comforting. I'd say that I am grateful Christopher is alive and well. So much could happen. God keeps him safe. I'm thankful for you and Nola and Anusha and MOP and Christian Writers Downunder. The comfort here is from God. I am sure of that. I have a new project for 2017! Particular Needs Theater. It's a theater where all the actors are special needs. I'm super excited about it. Pray I can pull it off. Love you, Jenny.

    1. "rutted in our sorrow" is wonderfully expressive Robyn - we need to acknowledge them but not dwell (live, set up house) in them. Love your points of gratitude - so glad that Christopher is still alive & well & that we - and God - have been a comfort to you. Excited for you in a wonderful new endeavour - prayers for you in 2017 as you pull it off :)

  8. I'm thankful for God's presence, guidance and help in so many areas in 2016. It's been a tough year. I would like my writing to come to the fore in 2017. I'd like to finish my current novel and write some shorter works and indie publish them. I also hope I can find a home for my YA novel. Simples!

    1. God's presence makes things possible. Love your goals. Wishing and praying that you will see them become reality :)

  9. Thanks for your post Jeannette. I'm grateful for some new areas of ministry that have opened up and that God has brought us safely through 2016 despite health issues. My two goals for this year are to finish current book (non fiction re the adventure of journeying with God)and to have a more visible presence on social media!!! Yes, I do exist but always find posting at the bottom of my to-do list. Don't give up on me. Watch this space but not too often!

    1. Hi Kaye - good to hear from you :) Good to hear that God is at work - keeping you safe and providing new opportunities. And great goals. Will keep an eye out for you on social media :)

  10. What a great perspective on a year of contrasts, Jeanette. Certainly 2016 saw many challenges, but it also carried some wonderful moments too. So important to focus on those and be forward thinking into this New Year. I love the idea of listing our hopes for 2017. Thank you. :)