Summary: Jesus said that if we understood this parable we would understand all parables.
THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPEL
LEARNING AT THE FEET OF JESUS
Mark 4:10. “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.”
There is an obvious difference between those who hear Jesus on a shallow or cursory level and those who hear from him intimately. Those who only go to God when they are in trouble are limited in their understanding of most things of an eternal nature. God is still only a help in trouble, and not the source of life itself. To these people God is quite different to what He really is. They may think that He is the author of their problem. They may think that He is the only answer to their problem and may attribute ridiculous notions of His involvement in the solution.
The only way to have a decent understanding of God is to spend time with Him and in His word.
The word says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This is not to be the habit only of preachers. Any person needs to study the word for their own benefit. I guarantee that something you find for yourself means a whole lot more than something which you hear another say. Of course when we hear a bible teacher expound the word and reveal a lot of wonderful truths we are thrilled, but we also need to find some of our own revelation.
There is a negative side to this. And that is that all those who spend time with the Lord are going to be vilified somewhere or another. It is interesting how we are embarrassed by those who admit to being men or women of prayer. We may call them super-spiritual or something else, but it is we who are at fault. When Mary sat at the feet of Jesus it was He who congratulated her for getting it right. She was no different from Adam in the Garden, who found that it was normal to spend time with God. Spirituality is normality.
UNDERSTANDING THE PARABLES
Mark 4:10 “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.”
Parables. Parables are in the OT, in rabbinic literature, and in the Gospels of the New Testament. The parables taught by Jesus, in comparison to the others, are unique. Some scholars count a total of sixty parables and parabolic sayings in the Synoptic Gospels. This amounts to about one third of all the recorded sayings of Jesus.
Brevity and simplicity mark the parables Jesus taught. Only a few of them are longer than average: the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) and the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). These parables come to life; they are the vehicles that convey a profound message in simple terms, the proverbial earthly story with a heavenly message.
A parable is a form of speech, either a story or saying, used to illustrate a point the speaker is seeking to make. Parables can be divided into three classes: true parables, story parables, and illustrations. The true parable is an illustration taken from daily life, and its teaching is universally acknowledged. Examples of the true parable are children playing in the marketplace (Matt. 11:16; Luke 7:31-32), a sheep separated from the flock (Matt. 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7), a coin lost in a home (Luke 15:8-10).
Story parables refer to an event that took place in the past and centres on one person: the shrewd manager who redeemed himself (Luke 16:1-9), and the judge who eventually administered justice in response to the repeated plea of a widow (Luke 18:2-8).
Illustrations are stories that project an example which is to be imitated; the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) ends with the admonition "Go and do likewise."
There are also simple parabolic sayings which Jesus used which seem to have come from the sayings of the day. Examples of these are: "Physician, heal yourself" (Luke 4:23); "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?" (Luke 6:39).
The parables of Jesus are stories that are true to life, even though in some cases exaggeration is intended (e.g., ten thousand talents by any standard is a great amount, Matt. 18:24) or allegorical overtones can be detected (see the parable of the tenants, Matt. 21:33-44; Mark 12:12; Luke 20:9-19).
However, the parables Jesus taught are not allegories in which every name, place, and feature is symbolic and demands an interpretation. The parables embody metaphors and similes, but they are never removed from reality and never convey fictitious ideas. They are stories taken from the world in which Jesus lived and are told for the purpose of relating a spiritual truth.