If You’ve Seen Me…

bear-hiding-eyes

Physical & Spiritual

Parables are critically important to understanding the Bible. Understanding parables and understanding the Bible are inseparable. Saying that another way: To understand the Bible is to understand its parables, and visa versa.

Parables are two-sided stories. There is the story itself which is often a simple folk story. This part of the story belongs to the physical realm because it is heard, seen or read with the physical senses. But parables also contain an inner moral lesson.  The concealed moral message is associated with the spiritual realm because it can only be understood with spiritual eyes and ears. It is this spiritual knowledge (better thought of as understanding) that Jesus referenced when He often concluded a parable by saying, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” What He was saying was that the one who would understand His parable was the one who had the right spiritual receptors. This is the person who has a heart that seeks after God and His ways, who lives according to the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor as yourself. In these post New Testament times, it is the one who is born again through repentance and who has received a new heart with which to hear and see the things of the spiritual realm.

The Bible is really a huge parable that contains a vast number of parables. The words printed on the pages of the Bible are the physical side, and the understanding of parables as received by revelation from the Holy Spirit is the spiritual side. It is absolutely critical that you see the Bible as being a parable. Parables bring life to the Bible. It is through parables that the Holy Spirit is able to reveal everything about our God who is without beginning or end. It is because of parables that the Holy Spirit can lead you to the story of David and Goliath and make it relevant to your situation at the very moment you read it. That is to say, this is how believers, be it an individual or a group of any size, receive edification from the Bible.

Those whose hearts have not been changed will only ever see the physical part of the Bible parable. The written word is of course the truth, but it is not all the truth. The whole truth of God is never-ending because God is never-ending. Therefore the printed words of the Bible are only a small part of God’s truth. The rest of the truth is contained within the parables and it is revealed to the spiritual eyes and ears of those who have been born again and received a new heart. A person without a changed heart can only receive understanding of the Bible that  comes from his or her own mind, and the mind is fleshly. “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen [not of the Holy Spirit but his imagined insights into the Bible], inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.” (Colossians 2:18) You can be certain of this:

Persons who have not repented and become born again will never see or hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit revealing the endless truth of God.

12  But  man in his  pomp [one who has not been born again] will not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the  way of those who are foolish, and of those after them who  approve their words. Selah.

14  As sheep they are appointed for  Sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the  upright shall rule over them in the morning, and their form shall be for Sheol  to consume so that they have no habitation.

15  But God will  redeem my soul [I will be born again]  from the  power of  Sheol, for  He will receive me.  Selah.

16 Do not be afraid  when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased;

17  For when he dies he will  carry nothing away; his glory will not descend after him.

18  Though while he lives he  congratulates  himself — and though men praise you when you do well for yourself —

19   He shall  go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see  the light [the whole truth of God’s word].

20   Man in his  pomp, yet without understanding, is  like the  beasts that  perish. (Psalms 49:12-20)

Critically Important

Now that you’ve seen the importance parables play in Bible understanding, you shouldn’t find it odd that so much of the world we live in points to this phenomenon. There’s the duality of the universe, the two-sided nature of all things. Then there is the principle of two and only two realms in all of creation … that of the flesh (physical) and that of the Spirit (spiritual).

Human beings have dual natures … physical (our bodies) and spiritual (our hearts and souls). Jesus Christ (the man who walked the earth) also had a dual nature … He was a man (physical) and He was God (spiritual). When a person repents and is born again, he or she receives a new spiritual nature. The original nature that was in sync with the fleshly realm is replaced with a heart and soul corresponding to the realm of the Holy Spirit. In other words, a born-again person has become a new parable.

In this article, I have been trying to illustrate the concept of parables in different ways because of how necessary it is for you catch the vision of the importance of parables. The disciples had a difficult time understanding Jesus, because they weren’t on board with the parable concept. An interesting discourse took place after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at the conclusion of the Last Supper. Jesus begins to speak to them of His going away, and the emphasis shifts to the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Lets follow along.

1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

4 And you know the way where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

8 Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:1-12)

Jesus said He was the way, the truth, and the life. He wasn’t just a way, but He was and is the way itself. He was saying to the disciples that He wasn’t just the man they had been looking at with their physical eyes for more than three years … there was, in fact, more to Him than His physical being. They were looking at Him the whole time they were with Him, but they weren’t seeing Him with the sight necessary to see His spiritual side. They saw Him only as the person they saw with their physical eyes … a physical body. Jesus knew that they weren’t going to follow a man for very long or with much dedication. His followers would have to see the spiritual Jesus also … God the Son … the only begotten of the Father … if they were to keep His commandments and change the world. Those who see Jesus as the Son of God will follow Him to the ends of the earth. If more Christians understood parables and how to see their inner side, many more would see the spiritual side of Jesus, and they would follow Him with the utmost dedication.

The next words from the mouth of Jesus (verse 7) really confuses the disciples. Jesus says that seeing Him is the same as seeing the Father, and that He and the Father are one. Philip expresses all of their confusion and asks Jesus to stop being so evasive … if He would just show them the Father they would understand what He is saying.

Jesus doesn’t do what Philip requests. Instead, He restates that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. Had He fulfilled Philip’s demand, the disciples would have known the mystery of Jesus, but they would not have understood since they did not see Him with their spiritual eyes. This is the same reason Jesus taught with parables and did not explain them to the people. He did explain the parables to the disciples just as the Holy Spirit does today.

33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;
34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples. (Mark 4:33-34)

Next Jesus tells them that they must believe that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. He told them that the Father was in Him and that He and the Father were one, but they neither believed nor understood. The Holy Spirit speaks to people today, He unlocks the secrets of the parables, yet so many Christians neither believe nor do they understand. They experience the Bible only through the words on the pages. It’s a physical experience only. What a sad commentary this is for those who believe they know all the truth when they know only the words on the pages of the Bible.

I hope you are coming to realize that parables are without a doubt the most important things you will ever understand.

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6 Responses to If You’ve Seen Me…

  1. Lisa Werner says:

    If I didn’t know who wrote this, I would feel I have no business being on this blog and would never entertain it. This is a difficult thing for me to write about with so many positive and negative experiences with “Christianity”. Reading some of the above was comforting and I like to hear things like this from time to time to remind me. Usually or I should say, always, what works for me is to keep it simple. Sometimes I wonder if I should know more about the Bible and parables and feel guilty about it, but I need to let that pass because I don’t think currently that is what forms me. I used to always ask Jesus to come into my heart especially when I had to confront hard, lonely or depressing times but one day I realized (or really it was shown to me, because I would have never found it on my own), that there was something already here in my heart. It was like I just stumbled upon it one day. So when I pray now it’s different, or when I go to do something difficult, it’s different, or when I say things I shouldn’t say, it’s different. As though, Jesus, is here already inside me, I need to only make the right actions. Which I don’t always, for sure. But I get a reminder EVERY single time I don’t act or behave the way I should. Even small things.

    This may throw people off, but I believe there is one God for all the people in this world and it doesn’t matter what religion you were brought up in or who you believe in when you die. I believe it is more complex than just the Bible and what was written down at that time. Instead of all these religious wars and beliefs (even among people in this country), I think it would be a better idea to act good instead of “talk” good. Isn’t that the bottom line. To treat others with love and respect the best that you can.

    I get so discouraged with people who claim to be something they are not. I’ve experienced it recently in school. The more “religous” or “Christian” the more fake they were. Cheaters, trouble makers and those that traumatized others in their family. It just saddens me.

    On a good note, the person who wrote this (Peter) was the only for sure “Christian” I’ve EVER met to this day. I will never forget that and I hope there are more like him out there. So far though, no dice.

    • Noel says:

      LIsa , I totally understand. I believe God is greater than what religions (including Christianity) attempt to describe. His grace, for instance, is greater than what we can imagine. I believe that when Jesus was saying that Him and God are One, he was saying that he felt completely connected to God because he was living and experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven in its entirely. Now, this can turn into a religious argument about whether or not Jesus is God. I am not going to entertain that at this time. What is important is that Jesus showed us the way to live the Kingdom of Heaven, the way God wants us to live on earth (as it is in Heaven). Every person does have a chance to know God, no matter which religion or culture they were raised in. But it is more than just a specific doctrine. Peace.

  2. This is a very deep message and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Can I see Jesus with my spiritual eyes?

  3. Anne Grace says:

    Peter, The reason the disciples couldn’t understand Jesus’ words is that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to them. HS was alongside them, but not IN them until Pentecost. (By the way, the term is “vice versa,” not “visa versa.”) Lovingly, Anne Grace

  4. To Lisa, Noel and Jeremiah:
    Thank you for your comments. It means a lot to me when readers take the time to express themselves on this blog. I’m going to take a shot at a reply to all of you at one time.
    There is probably more confusion over what the Bible says than just about anything else. It is also a fair estimate that there’s an even greater amount of confusion over understanding the Bible. There is a difference between knowing and understanding the Bible. Here’s my take on the reason for all of the confusion.
    1. Most people don’t read the Bible. Even those who have been “Christians” for many years don’t read the Bible on a consistent basis. How can someone expect to know what’s in the Bible if they don’t read it? Relying on others, even those who should know doesn’t seem to help much. The only way you can be certain of what is in the Bible is to read it for yourself. That was my experience. I had heard so many different ideas about the Bible I finally decided, at age forty-one, to read it for myself. I started in Genesis, and I was a changed man before I got to Revelation. I found out what the Bible was all about for myself.
    2. Most people approach the Bible from the wrong position. They think of the Bible as a book that has many errors and contradictions. They have a whole host of questions about the Bible and about God that leads them to the conclusion that God is not really God, or that God is not really good. Therefore, they wrongly conclude His book is not worth reading. What if a first year medical student approached his or her text books the same way? I think they would have a really tough time getting through school. Instead, each medical student begins with the premise that the text books are correct. Law students do the same. Why is it a common practice to approach the Bible from just the opposite position? It would be far better to begin reading the Bible by believing it is 100% true. Then after you’ve read it, you can judge for yourself.
    3. As for God … what He is like … His nature … and whether He is the one and only God … it’s all explained in the Bible. Here’s a good place to start:
    There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
    Knowledge always comes before understanding. So you must read the Bible if you hope to understand it. Understanding the Bible washes away confusion … not only about the Bible, but also about life. The more you understand the Bible, the more visible Jesus becomes as you see Him through the spiritual eyes of your heart.

  5. You make a good point, Anne. The Holy Spirit was not in the disciples at the time of the above interchange. (John 14:1-12) It is necessary to consider Jesus’ response to Philip in the ninth verse: “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?” Was Jesus being unfair to Philip and the disciples by asking a question that sounds like He expected they should have known more about Him … maybe a lot more than they did? It sounds as though Jesus thought they should have known Him after they had been with Him for so long, even though He certainly knew they had not yet received the Holy Spirit.
    Another point: When did the disciples receive the Spirit? Jesus does something very interesting when He appeared to the disciples after He was resurrected. “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:21-22) The disciples received the Holy Spirit at that time … after the last supper, but before Pentecost. Did they then have the Spirit within? A question for another time.
    Thank you for being an extra spell checker. I appreciate the help since I am a continuous student when it comes to spelling.

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