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Don Stewart :: Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?

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Don Stewart

One of the methods Jesus employed in communicating His message was through parables. A parable is basically an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. When Jesus started telling parables to the people, His disciples asked the obvious question, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" (Matthew 13:10).

Jesus Gives A Revealing Answer

Jesus' answer to the question was quite revealing.

Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given . . . . And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive, for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them' (Matthew 13:11,14,15).

Unwillingness on the part of the people to receive Jesus' message of the kingdom was the reason that He taught in parables. The truths of the kingdom of God were heard by them but not understood. It was not because God was hiding the truth from them-it was because they did not want to hear.

They Had The Chance To Believe

This points to a great truth. God has given the people every chance to accept the message of Jesus. His ministry was attested by miracles. He offered the proper credentials as the Messiah, yet they did not believe Him. The realities of the kingdom, therefore, were not theirs to know. The people who believed in Jesus as the Messiah would understand the parables. They would comprehend the great truths of the kingdom of God.

They Are To Be Understood Spiritually

Some years later the Apostle Paul would echo the same truth:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory . . . For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God . . . But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:7,8,11,14).

Most People Were Not Interested In The Truth

The truth of God is to be understood spiritually. The great majority of the people in Jesus' day were not interested in God's truth. Jesus clearly said,

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand (Matthew 13:13).

Summary

Jesus spoke in parables - earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. He did so that his disciples would comprehend his teachings and that unbelievers would be without comprehension. Those interested in understanding the truth of his message would understand while those not interested would remain without understanding.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.