Speaker: Jerry Cisar
Functional MRI technology has allowed neuroscientist to measure brain activity during magic tricks. I’m not talking about the tricks you and I do to our kids or grandkids; I’m talking about professional magicians. Magicians tell us, “The hand is quicker than the eye.” But how could that be? Because our eyes interpret according to our expectations. According to fMRI technology, during magic tricks, the part of the brain that activates during expectation violations became very active in observers.
In other words, the hand is only quicker than the eye because we are blinded by our expectations. Magic functions against those expectations in order to accomplish its purpose. John Dominic Crossan, NT scholar and church historian wrote, “Satire attacks the world. Parable subverts the world.” Another author explained, “The threat of the parable is that it subverts the myths that sustain our world” (B. B. Scott). Magic exploits our myths; parables overthrow them.
Narrative psychology, a field of research into the way stories shape our lives, studies how lives are shaped by stories—whether consciously or unconsciously. Each culture has its own set of stories. America has its own set. Parables threaten those myths. Parables subvert them. Parables expose what’s wrong with them.
The parable in Matthew 20 exposes false expectations often held by disciples who sacrifice much to follow Jesus. It also offers the cure.