CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Amy-Jill Levine, special to CNN

(CNN) – It was once said, “religion is designed to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”

Jesus’ parables – short stories with moral lessons – were likewise designed to afflict, to draw us in but leave us uncomfortable.

These teachings can be read as being about divine love and salvation, sure. But, their first listeners – first century Jews in Galilee and Judea – heard much more challenging messages.

Only when we hear the parables as Jesus’ own audience did can we fully experience their power and find ourselves surprised and challenged today.

Here are four examples of Jesus’ teachings that everybody gets wrong:

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