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, the earth, heaven, hell, the Gospel, the end of the world… you know, all the big topics. And He starts His teaching by basically saying, “Want to know about Sovereign Holy God’s kingdom? Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a bag of seeds.”
In Matthew 13, Jesus teaches 7 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 Matthew 13:10-17, the disciples had the same question, and Jesus explains why.
Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: "'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
So Jesus said He speaks in parables because “seeing they do not see” and “hearing they do not hear”. 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. - has a congregation that wishes he could say so much by saying so little