Chapter 7: Miracles and Parables

People desire survival yet are unable to achieve it without challenges. Simon and Andrew had been fishermen. Jesus asked them to abandon that type of business, intending to make them fishers of men.

Let us consider what caused the two brothers to abandon fishing to follow Christ, by first looking at methods commonly used in fishing (Luke 5:4–11). The universally exploited methods include throwing bait, to attract fish. A skilful fisherman knows that there is no hope of ever catching fish without bait.

Miracles are magnetic in attracting people’s attention. The big catch miracle––experienced by Peter and Andrew after spending the whole night without catching anything––convinced the two brothers that Jesus was not ordinary (Luke 5:4-10).

Failure to catch fish on that specific night had been inexplicable, in their ordinary ways of handling issues. The miracle convinced them to leave their nets and follow Christ.

While miracles made Jesus super-heroic, the majority, benefitting from such miracles, could not go further than that. They failed to comprehend the miracles of crucifixion and resurrection. Healing the sick and raising the dead back to life was not an end in Jesus’ mission to save humanity.

The lame, the sick, the dumb and the blind, experienced joy after healing, as witnessed by many. But that did not necessarily qualify the healed into God’s Kingdom. There was something more important, before attaining salvation in its totality. God’s Kingdom is not necessarily obsessed with physical survival.

When truly convinced of Jesus being the Christ, miracles cease to be fascinating. After all, with God, nothing is impossible (Mark 9:23). To a truly converted person, one’s existence becomes an even greater miracle, instead.

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See I have told you ahead of time” (Matt. 24:24-25 NIV).

Jesus’ miraculous escapades drew multitudes. But to His disciples, He delivered His inaugural lecture without miraculous performances (Matt. 5, 6 & 7). Miracles were not necessarily an end in fulfilling His mission.

The Wise and Foolish Builders parable guides those pursuing God’s Kingdom, (Matt. 7:24-27). There is a difference between being fascinated by miracles and adopting what Jesus advocated. Jesus’ mission––while using miraculous exploits––maintained the agenda of God’s Kingdom.

Many were healed of infirmities, with demons being cast out. Others attempted volunteering to be His followers after having been mesmerised by miracles. But Christ categorically stated that there was no immediate advantage in following Him, insisting on counting the costs (Luke 14:28-33).

This apparent, rebuff discouraged many––even though fashionable to associate with a man of such popularity. The bait (miracles) attracts various kinds of fish into the net. Later, the fisherman would skilfully select the needed fish, throwing the undesirables away (Matt. 13:47-50).

People gather in greater numbers, where miracles are included in preaching. However, such numbers are not always reflective of true conversion. It is encouraging to see multitudes confirming their subscription to Christianity. However, the selected ones survive the sifting at the end of the age.

God’s Kingdom is achieved through the principle of giving, not necessarily what one receives as benefit to self. This is an assertion often misunderstood by many Christians. The relevance of miracles is stuck only on the need to appreciate Jesus’ Lordship, holding the crux of God’s Kingdom.

The parable of the Sower reveals the sifting process (Matt. 13:3-9). The Word––being the seed––falling onto some good soil produces abundant yields. The good soil represents an individual with a mindset similar to Jesus’ mindset––showing concern for other people’s deliverance (altruism).

A true convert becomes passionate in facilitating the spread of the gospel (vs. 8). That is contrary to self-centred behaviour––revealing seeds falling on the highways, rocky places and thorny grounds (vs. 5-7).

The term: “He who has ears, let him hear” (vs. 9), suggests the possible listening that is compounded in self-centeredness. True heroism confers benefits to other people, more than self. A public benefactor gets obsessed with serving others seemingly neglecting his/her welfare. Here are the reasons for parables:

“To you, it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others, they are in parables so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand” (Luke 8:10 ESV).

While the disciples understood; among His listeners were those not expected to understand. Why could they not understand, as well as the disciples understood?

How could there have been two categories of Jesus’ listeners, yet they all needed salvation? Self-centred people concentrate on what benefits the self. Although critical of the wrong things in the environment, they take no responsibility to change the status quo. They also pass acerbic judgment against the bringers of good news. Although occasionally fascinated by miracles.

Christ’s teachings reveal truth to the converted—yet the unconverted miss it. Even with the simplicity with which parables convey the message, the meaning is hardly understood by the proud people. The heavenly message, expected to come from high echelons of religious informants is irrelevant to the proud. The humble ones are willing to listen and analyze without prejudice (Matt. 5:3).

An inexperienced gold panner failing to see gold covered in sludge focuses on sludge, concluding that authentic gold cannot come from sludgy conditions. Yet someone experienced in gold panning is not bothered by sludge––focusing on vestiges of gold rather than the sludge. This expresses a reason why some people failed to appreciate Jesus’ messages, containing the value of eternal life.

They could not appreciate that Jesus––coming from a lowly considered city of Nazareth could credibly be the prophesied Messiah. This was compounded by rumours of Jesus’ questionable genealogical legitimacy (Matt 1:18), and His unapproved educational background (John 7:15).

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, others asked questions––not for learning purposes––but to prove how illegitimate He was. They sought to trap Him to give answers that would equip them with reasons to denounce or confirm indictment against Him. They sought negative things about him, advancing Satan’s responsibility of day-and-night accusation of brethren (Rev. 12:10).

A court of law arrangement comprises a judge and two important legal officers, focusing on the accused person’s fate. One is a prosecutor, seeking to convince the judge of the wrongs committed.

Another officer would be an advocate, defending the accused, leading to possible acquittal. Or that the accused should at least, be awarded a lesser punishment. The advocate appeals for leniency without necessarily belittling the severity of the crime committed.

Figuratively, Satan stands as the prosecutor/accuser of sins committed by humanity, whereas Jesus would be the advocate. Those—good at pointing at wrongs committed by others—are agents of the Chief Prosecutor, the devil. They will always hear but never understand. The work of the prosecution causes failure to construe possible value with the accused person. The role of the prosecutor is that of causing a person to be convicted, without necessarily considering the merits favouring the accused. However, those seeking to uplift another person, regardless of accusations levelled against them, would be an agent of Jesus Christ.

The role of the advocate is that of causing the person to be released from guilt. Generally, people come to the position of judging their fellows, due to assuming being superior to the accused. This, therefore, becomes an obstacle to their understanding and learning—hence causing their blindness.

Conversely, an accused person hates the prosecutor, who is only after justice—according to the crime committed. The advocate is likeable to the accused, only for the reason that he facilitates the release of the accused from the consequences of the crime committed.

The sins of humanity invite the death penalty, annulled by Christ’s advocacy, making Christ likeable. However, the more disdain is displayed against the accuser—disregarding the seriousness of one’s crimes—the more the person trivialises Christ’s advocacy. (Compare this with the two thieves at the cross with Jesus)

The prosecutor may hold valid reasons to convince the magistrate. The hateful attitude against Satan’s business of prosecution leaves people with condemnatory guilt, though appearing as piously appreciating Christ’s advocacy. This is what often brings about crashing failures in Christianity.

Acknowledging what is positive with the accused people, enables sympathetic consideration of their circumstances. That facilitates their possible acquittal, thereby leading towards appreciating the mysteries of God’s Kingdom. Hence, we can conclude that criminals need to be listened to, before arriving at decisions to punish them. It is a question of what goes on in the mind of the accused person that is of utmost importance.

By focusing on gold, only gold can be obtained. The significance is either desirable information from the accused or the human soul as valued by Christ. What spurred Jesus to come and die for the sins of humanity had nothing to do with the possibility of righteousness in humanity.

When bringing a woman caught in adultery (John 8:4-11), the Jews held truth in that such people ought to be stoned (Lev. 20:10). But those Jews stood on behalf of Satan while Jesus advocated for her deliverance. A person is saved, only when granted advocacy by a reliable advocate. Hence, Jesus taught His disciples to pray for their enemies, more than they ought to pray for their friends. The principle of Christianity is advocacy towards fellow men, regardless of their background.

Instead of admiring the works of Jesus, the legalists attributed Jesus’ miracles to Beelzebub (Matt. 12:23-24). In Jesus they saw a sinner, constantly violating strict Sabbath laws, not one alleviating other people’s conditions of physical deformity. They could not see the net effect of the miraculous works of Jesus Christ. From this, we can perceive the blinding factor as centring on pride.

They could not discern the significance of being on Beelzebub’s side, which is obsessed with judging others. Whilst accusing Jesus of being influenced by Beelzebub, they were effectively doing the work of Beelzebub. Hence, they were seeing, but not perceiving, even the beauty of delivering the paraplegic out of misery.

Self-centred people cannot focus on altruism, against their benefits. True Christians exercise empathy towards others, regardless of how sinful those people could be. In that behaviour, one risks being categorised as a sinful character. Most Christians, desiring to maintain integrity, avoid being ‘tarnished’ by sinful characters. What they fail to observe is that Christ came to identify with sinful characters, like him.

Such Christians are known to always protect their integrity by associating with “good people” only. Yet that is exactly what disqualifies them as Christ’s followers. Comparing oneself favourably with others leads to failure to appreciate the secrets of God’s Kingdom (Matt. 7:21-23 and 13:11). This is what justifies the aspect of introversion, which is sustained in self-centeredness.

There is truth in that weak characters can be trapped in the bad habits of sinful characters. However, true Christians are causative at all times. The business of Christianity is to change the environment for the better, rather than being changed by the environment for the worse. The negative behaviour of humanity cannot be surprising to the informed person, who calls him/herself a Christian.

The behaviour of ordinary people is generally the opposite of what is projected in the New Civilization. Focusing on wrongs committed by others makes it impossible to see possible value in them. Only the true followers of Christ remain committed to behaving like Jesus––who saw value in despicable sinners, as to die for them. A true Christian focuses on the greatest good for the majority, at all times.

A wrong thing is wrong, regardless of who committed the offence. This is what drives a true Christian to act, rather than stand aloof. A self-centred individual influences selective justice for his/her benefit. There is a strong possibility that the group of those who brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus did not include any of her relatives. However, justice carries no consideration of self-interests. If Jesus considered self-interests as a guiding factor, He could not submit to the damning cross.

Bless are those not influenced by personal interests when making their day-to-day judgments. The justice system is accursed, when those sitting on the bench, blurt out unjustifiable verdicts. They assume that to be what protects their interests but are unaware of that behaviour being harmful to them, as putting them in a quandary. Justice belongs to God. The sins of humanity are in greater or lesser degrees, depending on the amount of failure to execute justice, fairly.

The most important factor is realizing the wickedness that is contained in self-centeredness.  This spells effects on dichotomies of introversion and extroversion. The more self-centred one is, the more wicked he/she becomes. This is what causes failure to perceive the secrets of God’s Kingdom. The reason for failing to perceive is the inability to appreciate that God’s Kingdom is not designed for self-centred people.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99

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