March 16, 2014

Bible Metaphors – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:03 am by sranderson0103

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

A “metaphor” is defined by The Oxford Dictionary as…

“A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable: …A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else…”

The Christian and his characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. Figures of speech often reach beyond scope of our literal language. They are useful to help picture what Christ is saying in the verse quoted above. Christ calls us “my sheep.” He has also said:

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)

If we are truly His sheep, then we will listen to His voice, follow Him, eager to receive safety, peace, and nourishment.

He has also said:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matthew 5:13-14).

We are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.

In another beautiful metaphor, the Lord Jesus has likened us to fruitful branches:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).

Does He see you as a fruitful branch?

The apostle Paul compares us to soldiers, to athletes, and to farmers:

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” (II Timothy 2:3,5,6).

These figures should illustrate and help us understand what Jesus expects of us. Our responsibility is seen more clearly and becomes more difficult to ignore.

With regard to our Christian life, Christ said…

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).

The apostle Paul compares us to individual members in a great body.

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” (I Corinthians 12:27).

Peter says we are like…

“living stones, …being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:5)

He says we are, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” (I Peter 2:9)

There are many other beautiful and meaningful figures of speech in the New Testament, all of which help us to appreciate the richness and fruitfulness of the Christian life. If these figures, chosen by the Holy Spirit, seem inappropriate or do not really describe us, perhaps the problem is not with the Bible imagery, but with us. Are we what God expects us to be?

(Adapted from article by Henry Morris)





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