Jesus is the Master of the Parables. One question raised is why Jesus chose to teach the masses through parables. Many people, including some of his disciples, have wondered about it. Jesus did respond to his disciples’ inquiry, albeit his explanation may not make sense to modern ears. Let’s take a quick look at what a parable is and why Jesus used them so frequently.
What is a Parable?
According to Merriam-Webster, a parable is “a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.” A parable is a literary tale that teaches a spiritual lesson. The Lord Jesus Christ often spoke in parables to illustrate eternal truths. These stories stick with you, with memorable narratives, daring heroes, and deep imagery.
In Judaism, parables were frequently used as a means of instruction. Until a specific moment in His ministry, the significance of the numerous visual metaphors Jesus used—involving salt, bread, sheep, and so on—was reasonably evident in the scope of His teaching. Jesus began to teach solely through parables at one point during His life, which entailed more time spent on explanation.
The shortest of his parables only included one verse (Matthew 13:33), while the longest, the Prodigal Son, had almost a dozen (Luke 15:11-32).
Why Christ Spoke in Parables
The disciples of Christ were among the confused. The disciples once approached Christ in a confidential setting to ponder his use of parables in His teachings. Christ’s response sheds tremendous light.
“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Matthew 13:10-11)
Christ tells His followers that His goal was to make the mysteries of the Kingdom of God unobscured to them. On the other hand, the spiritual truths intended for the rest of humanity were to be conveyed through stories or parables. If the doctrines of the Kingdom of God are so apparent and transparent, why are they only taught to Christ’s disciples and not to everyone else?
“For whoever has, to him [more] shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:12-13)
It would appear that Jesus is explaining to his followers that the meaning of his parables is double. First, he wanted his followers to know the kingdom’s secrets. The second purpose is to obfuscate information from those who were not his followers. Let us break down what this means.
Teaching His Beloved Disciples
Jesus’ first stated goal in employing parables was to teach his followers “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” To convey his message further, Jesus often spoke to them in parables.
Think about the “Sower’s Parable.” One of Jesus’ most well-known parables is in Matthew 13:3-9, with an explanation in verses 18-23 of the same chapter. In this story, a guy walks out and plants seeds in his field. The sower scattered the seed across the entire field, but not all landed on fertile soil. Some fields were completely barren, others fostered growth but failed to bear fruit, and others produced a bountiful crop.
Jesus told a parable to his followers in which he likened the word of the Lord to a seed (Luke 8:11). There are four possible responses to the gospel message, represented by the four varieties of soil. Some people instantly dismiss it. Some people initially embrace it but then abandon it when they encounter difficulties. Some people are open to hearing the gospel but let distractions from their lives drown it out. Some people eventually accept the gospel and bear much harvest.
Jesus’ unlocking of the parable’s meaning for his followers made obvious to them what they might anticipate as they spread the gospel. There would be those who were completely uninterested, those who were mildly curious, and those who enthusiastically embraced it and thrived.
Even though most of us nowadays don’t know much about farming and horticulture, this fable nevertheless has valuable lessons. After briefly describing the sowing procedure, we can see why some individuals flourish as Christians, whereas others stumble or even veer away.
For The Sake Of Obscuring Meaning From Others
The second reason Jesus offered to speak in parables was that they were more difficult for listeners to grasp. Jesus used parables to obscure his teachings from those who chose to ignore them. When Jesus taught, he often used parables to separate his audience into two camps: his followers and the rest. His followers might pick up useful information from the Parables. For other people who were not his disciples, however, their significance was ambiguous. His followers would get wealth through his parables, but the unbelievers would be deprived.
The statements of Jesus in Matthew 13:12 are identical to those in the Parable of the Wedding Feast found in Matthew 22:1-14.
In this parable, a king invited certain people to a feast. Then later everyone was invited. Everyone ultimately received an invitation. However, just a few of them attended and could partake in the feast. The parable ends with, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” The monarch extended invitations to many individuals, but only the ones who answered were allowed to attend the wedding feast.
This divide of individuals also occurs in Jesus’ reasoning for why he spoke in parables. Those who said yes to Jesus’ call and joined the feast were the ones who ultimately committed to following and serving him. People who didn’t want to come to the party couldn’t understand the parables.
Why Must Christ Obscure the Message?
The previous discussion was able to identify the individuals for whom the message was obscured, but, it was unable to address the issue of why it was covered. If Jesus had already been clearer in his teachings, then is it possible that more people would have followed him and entered his kingdom? Could some individuals be disqualified since the message was too complicated to comprehend?
For this question, it may be necessary to understand what God expects from us. If all he wanted people to do was believe in his existence, he provided us with enough logical justification for us to be persuaded by it. However, it is abundantly evident that merely holding the notion that he exists is not enough. Although the devils are sure that God exists and have a lot of information about him, this certainly does not help them in any way (James 2:19). Faith is what God desires from us (Hebrews 11:6), but faith conflicts with evidence.
As a result, Jesus decided to teach in a manner that would be approachable to people following him in faith. And for those looking for more convincing evidence of who Jesus was, it will continue to be a mystery. Individuals who do not immediately answer in faith are unlikely to be enlightened to the mysteries of God’s kingdom.
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