Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
~ Matthew 13:10-13 (NIV)
On one level, parables were not difficult to understand. Jesus masterfully taught moral principles by using simple, down-to-earth illustrations about everyday objects familiar to farmers, fishermen, merchants and others in his audience. At the same time, the spiritual significance of Jesus’ parables seemed obscure (even incomprehensible) to those who opposed Jesus or who simply were not attuned to his mission and message.
People with “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9), that is, those seriously seeking the truth, could dig deeper and find profound spiritual insight. For others, Jesus’ parables were little more than fascinating but puzzling riddles. Those who were resistant to his message did not have the interest or the energy to pursue the deeper truths found in his parables.
Jesus frequently used parables when speaking to large crowds, but in private he provided his disciples with more detailed explanations (see Mark 4:33–34). At this point in Jesus’ ministry, it was God’s intent that certain secrets of the kingdom be kept somewhat hidden from the many casual observers, from the overzealous but poorly informed supporters and from outright opponents. Sometimes, however, Jesus did use more direct teaching methods (cf. Matthew 5:1-7:27).
Father, you guide your people with kindness and govern us with love. Give us the Spirit of wisdom to understand the parables that Jesus used to teach about Your heavenly kingdom. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.In Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Devotion taken from NIV Essentials Study Bible.
Jesus frequently used parables when speaking to large crowds.