Summary: Discussion of Jesus’ words about why He used parables in His teaching.

The Purpose of Parables

Matthew 13:10-17

August 27, 2006


Have you heard the parable about the three athletes?

Three athletes are about to be executed.

One is a short dark haired hockey player; one is a bald headed tennis player, and the third is a tall blond haired soccer player.

The guard brings the dark haired hockey player forward and the executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He replies ‘No’ so the executioner sets him up and then turns and shouts to the firing squad: “Ready! Aim…”

Suddenly the hockey player yells out: “Earthquake!” Everyone is startled and starts looking around, and in the confusion the hockey player runs away and escapes.

The guard brings the next victim along: the bald headed tennis player. The executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He answers in the negative, so the executioner gets him ready then barks his order to the firing squad: “Ready! Aim...”

Suddenly the tennis player yells loudly as he can: “Tornado!” Everyone is distracted and starts to look up at the sky, and the tennis player quickly makes his getaway.

By now the tall blond haired footballer has got it all worked out. The guard escorts him forward and executioner asks if he has any last minute request. He replies ‘No’ and the executioner turns sharply to the firing squad and shouts: “Ready! Aim...”

And the soccer player bawls out: “Fire!”

(Sermon Contributed by: Peter Bines)

Okay, so it’s a joke and not a parable…

Last week we looked at the parable of the sower, and looked at how different types of people respond to the Word of God that is sown in our life.

And in the middle of that passage in Matthew 13, the disciples come up to Jesus and ask Him a question about why He chooses to teach in parables.

And His answer gives us some insight to both Jesus and the way He chose to communicate with people.

Jesus used all sorts of methods to communicate with people.

He used straight “lecture” or preaching-type ways. He taught by example, demonstrating to His disciples what He meant or giving them an example to follow.

And He also used story-telling and parables. But what is the reasoning behind these parables?

Well I think we can find some answers as we look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:10-17 (pp. 690-691) –

10 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

"Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

"’You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;

they hardly hear with their ears,

and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

From this passage I think we can find four main functions of parables.

But I also want us to look at some of the implications for us today.

It’s nice to know what the parables are all about and what’s behind them. But there’s more to it than that – we have to see just what Jesus was trying to accomplish and see if there is a lesson for us as well.

And let me tell you, there is stuff in here for us, so listen up in case the Holy Spirit has something He wants to talk to you about, okay?

Let’s get started and look at the four main functions of parables. Here’s the first one:

Parables served to teach lessons.

This isn’t expressed in the passage, but it’s clear because of how often it happened and because of the reactions of those who heard them, that parables served to teach lessons to the people.

Jesus knew that one of the best ways to get the point across was to use a story or a comparison to help people relate to what He was saying.

Parables were used in the Old Testament as well. One well-known parable was the one the prophet Nathan used to confront David’s sin with Bathsheba.

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