“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers . . . ‘” (Luke 10:29-30)
Try as we might, we can’t know everything there is to know about Jesus. Though we do know that Jesus was a storyteller. Throughout the pages of the Gospels, we can find people questioning Jesus about a great many topics. A device Jesus would often use to answer questions was to launch into a story Think about how obnoxious that might feel to the questioner! The lawyer in Luke 10 wants an answer to his question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replies, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers.” Jesus doesn’t immediately answer the question. He launches into a story. But hasn’t he peaked our interest? Don’t we want to know more? It’s a brilliant teaching tactic. And Jesus used it over and again.
We humans are meaning-making creatures. We are storytellers. From funny or spooky stories shared around a campfire to stories passed down from generation to generation within a family, we tell stories. We hear stories. Stories stay with us. It’s why I use stories freely when preaching. The average person sitting in the pews is probably not going to remember a minister’s exegetical analysis of a scripture passage, even if it’s fascinating. People remember stories and stories link us to one another. I love when people talk to me after preaching and a story I shared in connection with the Bible passage reminded them of their own story. Because now our stories are connected. The stories people wrote about God. My story. Your story. The weaving together of stories is sacred.
Remembering that Jesus was a storyteller can remind us that stories are sacred. When we ask one another, “How are you, how was your day?” and people respond by sharing their story, that’s a special act and it’s important to stop what we may be doing and pay attention. Because even asking something as seemingly mundane as “how was your day?” may result in some vulnerability. When we authentically share our personal stories, it is a vulnerable act. Maybe the response is, “Actually, I had a hard day.” We share our story and unburden our hearts, especially if the listener actually hears us. So even in the midst of a hard day, what a blessing it is to be able to share our story. Stories connect us to one another. We are meaning-making creatures. May we always honor each other’s stories.