I continue into the series of introductory excerpts from book Right Parables Wrong Perspectives. These are used with the permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. You can get your discounted copy here or on Amazon. Today’s excerpt from pp. 9-10 regarding Luke 6.43-49 regarding fruit bearing, listening and doing … I start this installment by talking about how this parable could’ve been told differently. In the next installment, I’ll explain why Jesus told the parable in the manner in which he did.


Telling It Different: Luke 6:43–49

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart. Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and don’t do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and puts them into practice—I will show you what he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep, and laid the foundation on bedrock. But the person who hears and does not put my words into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.

The early followers of Jesus were students. Their religious institutions were an outgrowth of the synagogues, where listening and doing were an important part of their lives. Although illiteracy rate was high in those days (higher among Gentiles), believers would learn by hearing and reciting the teachings read by their literate leaders. After learning for a while, they would internalize the knowledge to apply in real life. Failure to practice would indicate ignorance.

This story Jesus told (as I have arranged it above) is talking about listening and doing. It claims that there are two different kinds of builders. The two-way teaching of Jesus is fairly common. Jesus often talked about making choices that were favorable or unfavorable in relation to kingdom values. Even with this modified version of the story, the moral of the story is very clear. Those who listen should also apply, but what exactly was Jesus saying here by telling his story the way he did? (to be continued)