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Why My Dad Told Me Stories

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SBS:  Dallas was quite a place.  We went to the grassy knoll, the school book depository. Pictures are on my web-site.


Intro: I still remember the incident with some sort of bizarre mix of humor and frustration.  I was sitting in my office and another person who used to work here, but no longer does and has not for quite some time walked in and said to me “you know why you are so popular as a preacher?”  I was a little taken aback, first of all by the assumption of the question.  I wasn’t sure that I was popular as a preacher, but I just sat there and the person said “it’s because you tell stories.  Well, excuse me but I am not going to get up there and tell stories.  I don’t care how popular I am, I am going to be Biblical.”  I just sat there for a while in stunned silence and the person finally letft.

I thought about that for a while; about why I love stories so much and I think that there are several reasons.  One is that Jesus loved stories and I wouldn’t want to call his preaching unbiblical.  But I think that perhaps the most significant reason that I love stories is that my Dad told me stories.  As I grew up and started thinking about those stories I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in them and that I remembered them much better because they were stories than I would have remembered lectures.

In today’s passage we hear two short parables of Jesus as well as a characterization of him as virtually always speaking in stories.  Why is that?  Jesus could have given us a systematic theology but he gave us narratives.  What is it that stories do?  Today  I want to suggest, from this passage, that stories do things that other kinds of communication cannot.  This is not to say that these other kinds of communication are wrong, but are to say that anyone who condemns the telling of stories should be very careful because they are one of the most powerful tools in the teacher’s tool chest.


  1. BECAUSE STORIES GROW.  Vv. 31-32  KOH starts small and grows
    1. By this I don’t mean that they are like fish stories in which the fish becomes so big that eventually the fisherman only uses one hand.
    2. I mean that the more you think about a good story the more it teaches you.   My dad told me a story that he heard when he was a child about a family that lived near him that always cut the end off of the ham before they cooked it.  It became an almost unbreakable rule in the family that the end of the ham had to be cut off.  Two sisters were married and they cut off the ends of the ham, carrying on the tradition and insisting on teaching it to their daughters.  Then one day one of the daughters had the temerity to ask why.  They finally went back to the great grandmother who was in a nursing home by that time and they asked her.  She said “are you all still doing that, we did that because our pan was too small to hold the whole ham, why in the world are you still doing it now?”  I have thought of that story many, many times since he told it to me and it is a story that churches need to hear every great once in a while.
  2. BECAUSE STORIES SLOW. V. 33  Leaven is a slow process
    1. Leaven is usually negative, used of scribes and Pharisees
    2. Here it is meant to show us that the Kingdom is working no matter how bad the world seems.  We need patience to wait for the word to work.  One day I was really upset about what some of the people in the church had done and I was mad that the church was not growing, and my dad said to me “you are young now and you want everything in a hurry.  One day you will realize that life is very precious and you don’t want it to go so fast anymore.  It is at that point, he told me, that you won’t be so bothered by all the little things, because you take the long view of life.  Then he told me about a dog that used to live on our street.  It was a big, beautiful boxer. And he told me that every afternoon when he came home from the church he would see that dog walking down the street and there would be three or four little tiny dogs following along behind it nipping at the big boxer’s heels.  He said that big boxer never even acted like he noticed those little dogs, he just walked on knowing where he was going and paying no attention to the little snapping at his heels.  You could learn something from that dog, maybe, don’t you think Sam?
    1. They show the mysteries of the kingdom. V. 11 The greatest truth in the history of mankind is revealed through a story.
    2. They show the fulfillment of Christ.  God the father has sent his son to pay the price of sin that we could never pay.  That is the mystery that the stories show.  A mystery that we could never figure out on our own.

Col 1:26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

Why tell stories? Because they help us understand the savior of the world.  They remind us that we are all in need of help.  I will never forget the stories that my father told me and no one here should underestimate the influence that a story can have on a child that you come around.

There were two men in my life who had a profound effect on me.  One was my father and the other was Dr. Kennedy.  One Sunday I had forgotten that I was supposed to assist him in prayer.  It just completely slipped my mind.  That afternoon it came back to me and I knew that I was going to have to face him that night.

I didn’t know if I should prepare a sign that said “Will teach Greek for food.” Or what, but I went to him after the service and I said Dr. Kennedy, I am so sorry, I don’t know what happened to me, I forgot that I was supposed to assist and I don’t know what got into me.  I expected him to ask me what was the matter with me or worse, but he put his arm around me and said “Sam, we are so glad to have you here at the church.  You have been so faithful in your work here.”  This after I had missed an incredibly important assignment.  I didn’t deserve that, it was grace.  That is the kid of Grace that our heavenly father offers to each one of us if we will take it

Jesus told us stories because they matter.  Go thou and do likewise.

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