Familiarity with a preaching portion can sometimes hinder communication. This is especially true with some of Jesus’ famous parables. Luke 10:25-37 records the parable of the Good Samaritan.
You probably already knew this, but near the end of my workweek I realized that the adjective, good, did not occur in this parable. Jesus does say in verse 33, “…when [the Samaritan] saw him, he had compassion.” The lawyer admits in verse 37 that the Samaritan was the “one who showed…mercy.”
So, at the beginning of the teaching time, I gave the faith-family as assignment. I asked them while we were studying the parable to attempt to rename it. I asked them to help me remember this when we concluded the sermon so we could hear their attempts.
In this case, it’s an important assignment. Jesus ends the parable with: “You go, and do likewise.” Go and be good is a bit broad, a bit vague. When we rename the parable from The Good Samaritan to something like The Compassionate Neighbor, we help everyone move a little closer to specific acts of worshipful obedience.
You can think of other familiar sections of Scripture that could use some renaming. Lord willing, we’ll see another example in the months to come when I tackle Luke 15 and the parable of the Prodigal Son. You’ve heard it said that familiarity breeds contempt, but I say to you that familiarity breeds ambiguity.
Any time I’ve tried this renaming exercise, I’ve always found that it enhanced communication. It’s a simple, yet effective way to add to your exegesis and theological analysis.
Preach for the glory of God!