The context of Jesus’s preaching is human life

Sometimes I think people try to undercut the clarity and simplicity of the teaching of the Bible and especially the teaching of Jesus because they are convinced its proper “context” is something obscure and hardly accessible for most people. They have their own complex theological interpretation of the teaching of Christianity, but the connection between their system of ideas and the texts themselves is a complicated one. Thus, they think that the proper teaching of the biblical texts is not easy to grasp.

I think this is wrong. I think the essential teachings of Jesus are very easy to grasp and to understand precisely because their proper context is human life itself, such as we live it everyday. Jesus Himself illustrates this point by the use of parables that are easy to understand. Because He speaks about things that all people have in common, He can therefore be understood by just about anyone.

In that spirit, consider this passage from Adolf von Harnack:

Mourning and weeping, laughing and dancing, wealth and poverty, hunger and thirst, health and sickness, children’s play and politics, gathering and scattering, the leaving of home, life in the inn and the return, marriage and funeral, the splendid house of the living and the grave of the dead, the sower and the reaper in the field, the lord of the vintage among his vines, the idle workman in the marketplace, the shepherd searching for the sheep, the dealer in pearls on the sea, and, then again, the woman at home anxious over the barrel of meal and the leaven, or the lost piece of money, the widow’s complaint to the surly official, the earthly food that perishes, the mental relation of teacher and pupil, on the one side regal glory and the tyrant’s lust for power, on the other childish innocence and the industry of the servant — all these pictures enliven his discourse and make it clear even to those who are children in mind.

Adolf von Harnack, What is Christianity?, pp. 35-36