Cooking is one of my passions. I enjoy doing it, not just the time preparing a meal, but the whole process of cooking … meal planning … food shopping … all of it. While I’m not a gourmet chef, just a cook, I’m enticed by the creativity of cooking … and the immediate feedback. Even if I’m cooking only for my wife and myself, we eat it, and if it’s a new dish we decide if it is worth making again.
One of my favorite things is baking even though I don’t do a whole lot of it. I’m especially interested in making bread. A couple of years ago we bought a 1,000 watt mixer to mix up the dough. Since then, I have made a variety of items including whole grain bread, banana nut bread and muffins, cinnamon swirl bread and pretzels.
Not long ago, I pulled an old cookbook off of the shelf. This book is all about cooking with whole grains. The bread section is unusual. It has only one basic recipe consisting of whole wheat flour, yeast, milk, honey, butter and salt. This one recipe for a good honey whole wheat loaf can be used as a starting point for a wide variety of breads by simply substituting different combinations of flours and grains in place of the three cups of whole wheat flour. For instance, a combination of either all-purpose flour, rye, buckwheat or triticale could be used either for all or part of the whole wheat flour. In addition to different flours, other ingredients such as cornmeal, toasted wheat germ, steel-cut oats or millet, could be added as long as the combination of ingredients equalled the three cups. It is easy to see how this method can produce a variety of loaves from one recipe, each loaf with its own texture and taste.
I was intrigued by this idea of one recipe producing many loaves of bread. Eventually, I began to see how this concept could be used to explain the role parables play in the Bible. Parables are to the Bible what the different flours, grains and seeds are to the basic bread recipe. The innumerable meanings of the Bible’s parables provide a limitless number of insights into the nature of God. In other words:
An infinite number and variety of insights into God’s character and ways are contained within the parables, thereby making the finite Bible a boundless treasure chest of valuable nuggets of truth.
This is how a finite Bible can reveal every or any characteristic of God’s nature.
God is seen through the descriptions of Himself in the Bible, but as I said in the previous article, there is a limit to how much of God’s endless characteristics can be included in the Bible … it is after all a finite book … it begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. Our God has no beginning and no end. Understanding the parables through Holy Spirit revelation expands the Bible to match God’s limitless nature.
Thus the finite contains the infinite.
Think about that: The finite contains the infinite.
This is an extraordinary concept. Just as substituting ingredients in place of flour expands a single bread recipe from one to many loaves … each one different in texture, taste and character … in the same way parables expand the Bible into a never-ending storehouse of the nuances and paradoxes of God’s eternal nature. God is love … we know that because the Bible says so, but through the parables of the Bible the Holy Spirit can reveal all of the shades of God’s love … the length, breadth, width and height of His love … and its limitless qualities. God is unending and so are all of His characteristics. Parables make it possible for everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear to behold any or all there is to know of God.
How do we know this concept is really true? Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:7a) What is the treasure Paul was referring to? It is none other than Jesus Christ, the light of the world, the Truth and the Word.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure [Jesus Christ the light of the world] in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:3-7)
We are earthen vessels, made of the earth, Jesus is of God … we are physical, He is spiritual. So we see that the physical contains the spiritual. The Bible tells us that believers have Christ within. We are just like the parables … the finite containing the infinite. The man, Jesus, was not just a man, He was also God. The physical man contained the spiritual.
Jesus is also the Word as John wrote:
And the Word [God the Son] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Then we read in the book of Hebrews:
And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3a)
Then there is the following:
For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)
“All the fulness of Deity” means that every aspect of God’s limitless character can be found in Jesus. And Jesus is also called the Word. And the Word of God is also the Bible. And the Bible contains parables. And the parables, when explained by the Holy Spirit, contain all of the fullness of God’s nature. WOW!
Let’s go through that again:
- All the fulness of Deity dwells in the body of Christ. That means every nuance of God’s limitless character can be found in Christ’s body.
- Jesus Christ is the Word … the exact representation of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3)
- The Bible is also the Word of God.
- The Bible contains numerous parables, in fact it is a huge parable that contains parables.
- The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth Who will lead us into all of the Truth (all of the nature of God), reveals the truth which is hidden in the parables to those who are followers of Jesus Christ.
But that is not the end of the story. In Colossians we read:
25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,
27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)
Not only is all the fullness of God found in Jesus Christ, but Christ is in His saints, and you are a saint (holy one) if you have repented and received the Holy Spirit as Peter exclaimed in Acts 2:38.
I don’t know about you, but that just overwhelms me, and I need not meditate on it for too long before I am completely humbled. It also speaks to me of the greatness of parables. I said in the previous post that parables are huge. Well, I now have to conclude that parables are much more than merely huge … they are super huge. Because of parables, every disciple of Jesus Christ can know anything and everything there is to know about God. I hope you are beginning to have a new appreciation of parables and their role in understanding the Bible .