Jesus was not a storyteller

Jesus told stories. Almost everyone who knows anything about Jesus, knows that he told stories. And I’m guessing that there are a number of stories that people know without knowing that Jesus told them.

But I don’t think that he was a storyteller.

Storytellers have conventions and associations. Storytellers work on their stories, carefully crafting both the story and the telling. Storytellers have accomplished their work when they have effectively told the story.

Think about Uncle Ed and Uncle Dubois trading stories after Sunday dinner. The kids sit around and listen. Everyone has heard the story a hundred times, but the punchline still makes everyone bust out laughing.

But Jesus wasn’t a storyteller, not like that. Every time he told a story, he was looking past the story to some truth, some understanding. If it stopped with, “what a nice story about that man and his two boys. I’m just so glad the younger son came home” the point was missed.

I think he was more of a surgeon, using the story scalpel to cut through thick skins and layers of fat, removing tumors sucking life from lungs. I think he was a farmer, planting simple seeds that grow deeply and change everything. He was a rabbi, using stories to teach.

He can tell a story that makes part of his audience want to kill him and another part want to follow him to death.

Because Jesus wasn’t fundamentally concerned with getting the story right. He was more concerned with getting the people right. And the stories were tools that he used.

We are tempted, I think, from time to time, to focus on all the stories without stopping to listen to them. Not as nice stories, but as dynamite for our status quo wrapped in narrative rather than rules.

4 thoughts on “Jesus was not a storyteller

  1. Joseph Ruiz

    Jon you saved the best for last! “Not as nice stories, but as dynamite for our status quo wrapped in narrative rather than rules.” what a powerful image i love this sentence. Well, as much as one can love conviction. It does capture the essence of what you were describing in this post. Feels like so often i look for rules to break the status quo and they produce an explosion all right but not necessarily the kind that brings life. I think its because rules focus on external behaviors an outside in process. I see narrative and inside out – behavior change for sure but motivated by a changed heart.

    These days i hear a lot about disruptive technologies, I guess Jesus was way ahead of his time! 😉 Interesting how he can really stir things up.
    Thanks for sharing
    Grace and Peace


  2. Frank Reed

    Stories can be either fiction or non-fiction. By the time your Uncle has told that story for the 100th time he has likely embellished or changed it. Whether it was true or not it’s something that is malleable in the hands of the story’s creator.

    With Jesus, the stories are the truth. Actually, the Truth. His stories were about change. They were and still are personally revolutionary. Change is the result of following Him and really listening to him. It’s like having a modern day Egypt event in your very core because you realize that where you are is not where you need to be.

    It has nothing to do with personal realization either. The change the Jesus’ ‘stories’ brings about can only be done by and through Him. All other revolutions are just play acting.

    Thanks, Jon. Your thoughts ALWAYS make me think. As a result, I look to Jesus for change and I know today will be a good day!


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