“Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. There was such a large crowd along the shore that he got into a boat and sat down and spoke from there. He began to teach the people by telling many stories.” — Mark 4:1-2 (NLT)
Jesus was a storyteller. He knew how to impart lofty ideas, important truths, grand theological concepts, and spiritual revelation through the simple telling of stories—parables and tales that reflect people’s lives.
God chose to reveal Himself to us through the stories of people’s lives, beginning with Adam and Eve, all the way through to the dramatic Book of Revelation.
When I type “Bible stories” into the Internet search engine, most of the sites that pop up are about children’s books. I wonder why. Story telling is far from a childish, immature art or technique. While the Bible certainly carries other literary forms like sermons and prayers and poems and proverbs, story telling is what puts it all together. Moses told stories; Jesus told stories; the Gospel writers told their personal stories.
Why are stories so important?
Because, writes author Eugene Peterson, “Life isn’t an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation, atonement and holiness; life is…names and fingerprints, street numbers and local weather, lamb for supper and a flat tire in the rain. God reveals Himself to us not in a metaphysical formulation or a cosmic fireworks display but in the kind of stories we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings…Story is the Gospel way. Story isn’t imposed on our lives; it invites us into its life…The Holy Spirit weaves all this story telling into the vast and holy literary architecture that reveals God to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…to get this revelation right, we enter into the story.” 1
The Gospel is true. It’s about real people, real lives. And every day, in a myriad of ways, Jesus invites us to step into His story, walk with Him, talk with Him, and listen to Him tell us the true story of life.
“I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.” —Katherine Hankey, William G. Fischer, I Love to Tell the Story (hymn)
1. Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall,(HarperOne, 1998).