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Matthew 13: Bible Study for Artists

Jesus was a master artist. Not only did he grow up a carpenter, but he also became an incredible storyteller. Something I have always wondered though: Why would Jesus give the truths of the Kingdom of God in such a very confusing and potentially misunderstood way? Even His own disciples and the crowds that he was preaching to are like: “Dude, what are you talking about?”

The misunderstanding of the audience is not Jesus’ is fault, its the audience’s fault. I would bet based on the reaction of the disciples is that most people saw it the other way around. I think that is how the modern American church would have reacted, too.

One of the things I think we need to grow in as a church is we need to be less afraid of creativity. I'll use an example from one of my favorite shows of all time: Attack on Titan. It's very dark, it's very bloody, it's very violent. But man, does it say a lot about the human condition and cycles of violence that agree with stories in the Old Testament. What do we do with that fact that a secular story from our culture agrees with Scripture?

How we categorize art depends on a number of things, one of which is who is the person making it. In Matthew 13, Jesus is teaching this parable as God in the flesh. There's a certain trust that we can have in engaging his parable and the creativity that he's using.

Let's say this parable was spoken by a staunch atheist. Well, that means the parable’s meaning becomes completely different, even if exact same words are being used. We could start misinterpreting the seeds to be money. We could interpret the birds to be fans that don't understand our work.

We know there is a reason and a way we are supposed to interpret this because Jesus says so himself. He's giving spiritual truths through his art because that forces the person to engage with it. They have to sift through it to dig deep into what he's actually saying, beyond taking the parable as entertainment for entertainment’s sake. Then when we see this explanation, we see there is an intentional choice behind every single image, word, character and reference. That is what makes Jesus such a masterful artist.

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