Preachers this July will find no fewer than seven parables in the Sunday readings. Matthew collects them in Chapter 13: the parable of the sower, the wheat and the weeds, the mustard seed, the yeast, the treasure, the pearl and the dragnet. Jesus told stories to his disciples and to the crowds to convey the mystery of the kingdom of God. Preachers are invited to be storytellers like Jesus.
First of all, scholars tell us that the parables offer the clearest glimpse we have into the mind of the historical Jesus, a master storyteller. Because these sayings come before the post-resurrection theologies that shaped the four Gospels, to grasp their meaning and intent is to meet Jesus beneath the multiple layers of interpretation that became the faith of the church. To the extent that we can uncover the Jesus of history, we also come face to face with the person the apostles remembered and preached as the Christ of faith.