Summary: Through the use of parables Jesus was able to explain difficult subject matters in plain, simple terms. By referring to common, every day occurrences people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, could readily grasp what Jesus was saying to them.
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, January 31, 2010
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
“In a Manner of Speaking” [Introduction]
Did you ever wonder why Jesus spoke so often in parables? Why didn’t He just come right out and say what was on His mind? And why use such a clever ruse? Was it to keep things hidden from us? No, of course not! “” … “May it never be!” Jesus made frequent use of parables so that we might better understand “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 13:11]. But in the interest of fairness, Jesus’ disciples were also curious for they, too, asked: “Why do You speak to them (meaning the multitudes) in parables?” [Matthew 13:10; Mark 4:10].
Through the use of parables Jesus was able to explain difficult subject matters in plain, simple terms. By referring to common, every day occurrences people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, could readily grasp what Jesus was saying to them. Thus, they could identify themselves with the storyline. Concerns such as: health, wealth and relationships were of particular importance to His audiences. However, the Lord also emphasized matters of eternal significance such as: life and death, heaven and hell, forgiveness and condemnation.
The word “parable” in the Greek [ pronounced para-bu-lays] is a compound word which literally means “to put things side by side.” And so a parable is when one story is placed alongside that of another story in such a way that the two stories run “parallel” to each other. But the key to understanding all forty-four of Jesus parables, of which four are repetitious, is grasping the “hidden” message behind the story; “the message behind the message” as it were!
As one carefully reads these forty-four parables, it becomes evident that Jesus used heightened allegory to bring clarity not confusion; illumination not cloudiness to unveil the underlying meaning. In fact Jesus used this stratagem so effectively that the Synoptic Gospels make frequent references to them. For instance, “Fourteen percent of Matthew’s entire gospel narrative is composed of Jesus’ parables, Mark contains seven percent, and the parables in Luke comprise eighteen percent.”
In these few verses Jesus reveals why … “In a Manner of Speaking” … He spoke in this way: And the first reason has to do with THE FULFILLMENT
OF PROPHECY (repeat).
Jesus’ use of storytelling was perhaps due in part to His humble upbringing. For He, too, became familiar with the struggles of the common man. In a word, He spoke their language and [He] shared their burdens.
But that was not the only reason why Jesus used stories which people could relate with. It goes back to a fulfillment of prophecy at the time of Isaiah’s commissioning. Isaiah describes this vision he had of the Lord who sat on a throne lofty and exalted and the train of His robe filled the temple.