Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?

WHY DID THE LORD JESUS TELL PARABLES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was it to make the truth easier to understand—as regularly assumed? Or, could it have actually been to make God’s Word more difficult to perceive? Rather than speculating, we can simply read Jesus Christ’s own words. Would not Jesus Himself know His reasons for speaking in parables? Friends, let us have hearts willing to submit to and believe His words.

Years ago, my family and I attended a local denominational assembly where the preacher read a few verses and then spent the rest of the hour telling stories and jokes to illustrate. When I asked him why he was conducting his ministry thus, he said he was following Jesus’ pattern. He told stories because Jesus did; the preacher was trying to make the Bible easier to understand. Again, this is a common idea about Christ’s parables, but is it correct?

Matthew chapter 13 tells us: “[10] And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? [11] He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

As we saw in verse 10, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” The followers of Jesus Christ noticed the drastic change in His preaching. Now, He was no longer speaking in plain language. Why? Instead of wondering, we will allow Jesus Christ to answer the question posed to Him. Would it not be safe to assume that He knew why He was preaching in parables?

The Lord Jesus replied in verse 13: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” The Lord said He spoke in parables in order for His audience not to understand Him. He was not trying to make the truth easier to grasp; He was making it more difficult. They could hear the sound of His voice, His words, but there was no comprehension. Why? Does not God want people to understand His Word? Why is Jesus not interested in giving His audience spiritual light? Is it not unfair that He is hiding the truth from them? Keep reading, friend.

Christ was 100 percent reasonable, totally righteous, in preaching in parables: “[14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Jesus here is quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. In the Prophet Isaiah’s day over 700 years prior, there was extensive unbelief in the nation Israel. They did not want to hear God’s Word. Divine judgment would fall on them so that, although they would still hear the words of the prophets, they would not be able to understand. They had rejected spiritual light to such a great extent that now God would leave them right where they wanted to be. How terrible… but that was what they preferred! Jesus told parables to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy.

There was a second reason Jesus used parables. He said in verse 15 of Matthew chapter 13, “this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.” Their heart has grown stupefied or callous—uncaring and insensitive. They have not only rejected God’s Word up to that point, they are vehemently and violently refusing it. They do not want to see or hear the truth! Back in Matthew chapter 12, we read about the first time unbelieving Israel plots to take Christ’s life: “[14] Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. [15] But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; [16] And charged them that they should not make him known:….” Again, they are beyond reason; God has no reason to approach them with the plain truth anymore.

Friend, we have to understand that the Lord Jesus did not begin His earthly ministry with parables. In Matthew chapter 13, we are perhaps two years into His ministry. Parables were not meant to make spiritual truths easier to understand— otherwise, Jesus would have started His ministry using parables. He waited a few years to switch to parables because Israel had reached the point of persistently refusing simple truths. His extensive teaching in plain language had been disregarded for a long period of time. Now, judgment would fall on (tenaciously) unbelieving, (willfully) unsaved Israel.

Read Matthew 13:12 again: “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Whatever truths they had perceived from hearing Jesus’ words over the years, that spiritual knowledge would now be taken from them. They heard and understood but refused to believe. Now, with the introduction of the parables, their spiritual understanding would be completely removed. However, those who had believed God’s revelation thus far, they would receive more enlightenment. The Lord Jesus would go on to show His disciples how to interpret His parables; national Israel would remain in the spiritual darkness they wanted.

CONCLUSION

According to Matthew 13:10-15, the Lord Jesus spoke in parables for two reasons:

  1. Jesus told parables to fulfill Isaiah 6:9-10: “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” The unbelief in Israel that existed in Isaiah’s time remained in Jesus’ day. With the parables now employed, the unsaved Jews would continue hearing God’s words but they would no longer have ability to comprehend.
  2. Parables were God’s judgment on unbelieving Israel. Parables were not meant to make the truth plainer, but to make it more difficult. God had given them plenty of opportunity to learn but they had openly opposed and disallowed His words. Matthew 13:11-12 says: “He answered and said unto them [His disciples], Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the unbelievers in Israel] it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Israel had overwhelmingly refused to hear God’s simple words during the first half of Christ’s earthly ministry. When they began to violently refuse to hear, but rather began to plot to take Christ’s life, God turned them over to the spiritual ignorance they desired. The parables would erase whatever spiritual insight they had (and yet had refused).

Also see:
» Why did Jesus forbid others from preaching that He was Christ?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» If dispensational Bible study is true, how come so few believe it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.