Have you heard the 2,000 year old parable of the Chinese farmer?
A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. The neighbor says that it is bad news, but the farmer replies, “Good news, bad news, who can say?”
The horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, some might say.
The farmer gives the second horse to his son, who rides it, then is thrown and badly breaks his leg. “So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “Good news, bad news, who can say?” the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared. Good News, some might say.
This ancient Chinese parable illustrates that we do not have the full picture of events in our lives, but if we know G-d, we understand that Scripture promises us that something better is in store.
We don’t need to be too deeply philosophical to be shaken over the recent events of the last year. The pandemic, inflation, war in Ukraine – good news, bad news, who can say? Only the Lord knows and has promised that all things work out for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).
Jewish proverbs are like Chinese parables in that they are stories that are told by Rabbis, including Jesus. They are used to teach lessons about religion, life, and morality.
It seems we have lost sight of how Jewish Jesus’ teaching methods were. Many Rabbis were using parables to teach at that time and we know Jesus used them as well. During the time of Jesus and since, rabbis have taught using parables. The whole Talmud (oral tradition) is a compilation of parables. This connection between the Chinese people and the Jewish people and their traddition of parables is phenomenal and we can learn so much from it.
Parables have been a way for Jewish rabbis to teach for a very long time; over a thousand have been recorded. Like Chinese parables, these Jewish proverbs teach theological truths that use physical images to express theological abstractions and can lead us to a clear and simple understanding of Truth.