(This is a revamp of a blog from when we went through Matthew 13, discussing the purpose of parables. Since we are diving into Mark 4, I thought it was a good reminder for us...)
Why does He talk like that?!
Have you ever been around someone that made you ask yourself this (hopefully in your head)? I went to high school with someone who suddenly grew a British accent when she went to work. I am sure she didn’t know she was doing it. But I was just like… why is she talking like that? When did she get so British?
So Jesus, the greatest Person to ever walk the earth, is about to reveal some deep spiritual truths about God. “Want to know about God’s kingdom? Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a bag of seeds.”
In Mark 4, Jesus teaches some parables. What is a parable? The Greek (para) means “something alongside of something else”, or a comparison. It is a hard spiritual truth alongside an easy, earthly story. Spiritual matters are very hard for fleshly humans to understand, so parables help us make sense of them.
Parables can be effective for many reasons. They put concepts in pictures, for those of us who think that way. Parables are also easy to remember and retell. They are also great attention-grabbers!
But why did Jesus talk like that? Why didn’t He just teach the facts? Why did He communicate in parables?
In Mark 4:10-13, the disciples had the same question, and Jesus explains why.
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that "they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven." And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
So Jesus said He speaks in parables because “they may indeed see but not perceive” and “may indeed hear but not understand”. What does that mean? Why tell a story if people aren't going to "get it"? Parables had a way of revealing truth to some people and concealing it from others… at the same time! If you want to hear God’s truth, He makes a way. But if you harden your heart, you will not be able to hear him! Receive truth, get more; reject truth, stay in darkness! Also an interesting note: Jesus didn’t explain this to the multitudes… He explained this to His disciples!
The bottom line is grace. We are accountable for how we respond to what we know. And the more someone knows… and rejects… the worse the punishment is going to be for them in hell. So God, in His grace, uses a method of clearly teaching truth in a way that can be taught by those looking for it… BUT ALSO missed by those not interested. It’s grace!
The parables have always fascinated me. How can Jesus say so much by saying so little? Join us at Harvest on Sunday as we seek to understand the profound truths taught in simple stories.
p.s. - amazed at the wisdom of Jesus..