Metaphor - A figure of speech used to describe, illustrate or apply something to a lesson that it does not usually denote. Jesus masterfully communicated truth in a creative way so that His listens would understand and remember His teaching. For example, Jesus used many objects as analogies to clarify, entertain, and stimulate interest in a variety of occasions. The Lord said the kingdom of heaven is like: A farmer (Matt. 13:24); A mustard seed (Matt. 13:31); A king (Matt. 18:23); A net (Matt. 13:47); A merchant (Matt. 13:45); Yeast (Matt. 13:33); A barn (Matt. 3:12); A sower of good seed (Matt. 13:24); A treasury (Matt.6:19); Father's house -Jn14:2
1. Jesus knew that people often learn best when they are able to move from what is known (familiar) to what is unknown (unfamiliar). By using metaphors Jesus showed that He was the master teacher by using comparisons and contrasts of things that were familiar to His audience. He made the complex simple and easy to understand.
2. Jesus was a Master at helping people gain maximum retention, understanding and transference of what He taught them. By using metaphors Jesus knew how to help people gain a solid grasp on complex theological ideas. The Lord gave people truth that could be transmitted throughout the network of their relationships because He wanted all men to know the truth since it sets us free. (John 8:31,32)
3. Jesus used similes because He knew that people tend to think in terms of comparisons of objects, people and concepts that are nearest and dearest to them. When Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, the Lord allowed His audience, who largely lived off the land, to understand, meditate and gain greater insight into heaven using terms that they dealt with everyday. Ask the Lord to help you gain wisdom and knowledge to communicate to people in terms that they are familiar with.
4. Jesus used an amazing ability to link familiar phrases with ideas that at first seemed difficult to grasp. The Lord shaped truth in ways that people could picture it in their minds and contemplate on its riches. Ask the Lord for the wisdom and diligence to communicate truth in a way that scratches people where they are itching through felt, perceived, cultural, family, personal, experiential, and historically contextual needs.
5. Jesus taught forgiveness by giving people the story of the prodigal son. To bring the point home, the Lord analogized the forgiving father to our heavenly Father who forgives those who repent and turn back to Him for restoration. (Luke 15)
6. Jesus taught people to give when He said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:19-21) Jesus knew that treasure is best given to God as He is able to get a far better return on our investments in terms of eternal rewards and usefulness.
7. Jesus taught that the quality of our heavenly home would be determined by God's evaluation of our ministry on earth. Some that are faithful in what they are given will be entrusted with much in heaven: Mansions, responsibilities, rewards, perspectives, opportunities for service etc.
8. Jesus knew that on the judgment day each person would be essentially put in two categories. Those who heard the word of God and accepted it and produced a fruitful harvest versus that who failed to trust Christ as the substitutionary payment for the forgiveness of their sins: 1) Seed that gets snatched up by Satan along the path 2). Seed on the rocky soil that has no root that is unfruitful because of trouble or persecution 3). Seed among the thorns that are choked out by the worries, riches and pleasures of this life making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:1-20) Ask the Lord to help you to sow your seeds among people who are ripe for the harvest.
9. Jesus knew that the power of the kingdom is like a mustard seed. Even though a mustard seed is the smallest seed yet when it is planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. (Mark 4:30-32) Ask the Lord for the ability to not overlook any of the riches, power or potential that is found in your witnessing.
10. Jesus used metaphors because He spoke to people in terms of how much they could understand. The Lord knew just how much to present to people based on their level of readiness to learn. He realized that many people were not at a high enough level of spiritual maturity to comprehend what He taught them. However, when He was along with His own disciples, He explained everything. (Mark 4:33,34) Ask the Lord for wisdom, discretion, and diplomatic skills in speaking to people in a way that is suited to level of spiritual, ministry, educational, cultural, political, communicational, affective, cognitive, behavioral, and moral maturity. Let the Lord give you discernment in speaking to people who have ears to hear.