Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/80

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between the literal meaning of the parable and the deeper spiritual truth. Thus when our Lord compared God's answer to prayer with the answer which an unjust judge gives to an importunate widow, the details in the two cases are not intended to be similar; God is very different from the unjust judge. But there is one point of similarity—importunity does have its effect in both cases.

The distinction between a parable and an allegory is not an absolute distinction, and sometimes the two shade into each other. Thus the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, which Jesus uttered nearly at the close of his earthly ministry, partakes largely of the nature of allegory. The details to a considerable extent are significant—the wicked husbandmen represent the Jews and their leaders, the servants who were first sent represent the prophets, the son who was sent last represents Jesus himself. But many of Jesus' parables are parables pure and simple; they are not intended to be pressed in detail, but teach, each of them, some one lesson.

The purpose of Jesus in using parables was twofold. In the first place the parables were not clear to those who did not wish to learn. In accordance with a principle of the divine justice, willful closing of the eyes to the truth brought an increase of darkness. But in the second place, to those who were willing to receive the truth, the parables were made gloriously plain; the figurative form of the teaching only served to drive the meaning home.

The ministry of Jesus did not consist merely of teaching. Along with the teaching there went wonderful manifestations of divine power. These manifestations of divine power were of various kinds. Many of them were miracles of healing; Jesus had power to make the lame to walk, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear. He also had power to cast out demons. At the presence of the Son of God, Satan and his ministers had put forth all their baneful power. But the demons were obliged to flee at Jesus' word.

Matthew 8:23-27, and Parallels

Not all of the miracles, however, were miracles of healing. Some of the most notable of them were of a different kind. But all of them were manifestations of Jesus' divine power. When, on the lake, in the midst of the frightened disciples, our Lord said to the winds and the waves, "Peace, be still," the Ruler of all nature was revealed. The particular form of Jesus' miracles depended upon his own inscrutable