Why did Jesus speak in Parables
A parable is a message usually in the form of a story. But, why did Jesus teach using only Parables?
Old Testament Reference to Parables
There is a primary verse in the Old Testament that talks about why parables would be used by the Messiah as He spoke. We hear about Isaiah’s commission from God. God is frustrated with the people of Judah and He chooses Isaiah to go and deliver a message to them.
Isaiah 6:9-10 NIV “He said, “Go and tell this people:” ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”“
This message is from God. It was delivered by Isaiah. It is considered a stern rebuke to the people who have grown further from God’s obedience. This is referenced as a lack of using the God given abilities to know and appreciate God. The people had turned away. This message to the people also tells us that, even though God was talking to the people, they were not listening.
New Testament Reference to Parables
During the earthly life of Jesus, He makes reference to the same problem that was faced in the life of Isaiah about 700 years earlier. The people had closed their hearts and minds to God and instead of understanding, they only went through the required motions so they would get credit for doing them. Early on, God said, do something so they did it. Later on, they still did it but forgot why.
Many had also believed that they had learned all they were going to. This made them higher in stature than everyone else. In their mind, they presumed to know God’s will without asking. Anyone that tried to tell them anything about what they were doing wrong about their understanding, was rebuked aggressively. In some cases called blasphemy. Kind of a self-reinforced delusion that they always knew what God wanted because of their knowledge and experience vs understanding God’s will.
It was the goal of Jesus to reach the people that He knew would understand when he spoke. Even if He talked in parables. The ones that got it were truly listening. The ones that didn’t, just dismissed it. One of the most classic cases was when Jesus said in John 2:19 NIV “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
It was classic because the people Jesus was talking to about this, immediately believed He was talking about the worldly temple vs the temple that was His body. If He would have tried to explain Himself, it would have been rebuked as blasphemy. So, He tells His Disciples why.
Matthew 13:13-15 NIV Jesus said, “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”
Even though Jesus would speak in parables to the people, He makes the time to explain His parables to His Disciples. They have been given the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.
The lesson here. If you want to understand the teachings of Jesus, you must not close your mind and heart to learning. For, just as every question has an answer, usually every answer results in a question. Also, in the case of the parables of Jesus, many of them have more than one meaning. The more you learn, the more you understand that there is still so much to learn. Keep your mind open. Keep your heart fixed on God, and use the Bible as the source for your answers, Old and New Testament.