Summary: The disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables. A parable is like an allegory or a fable-a practical story that illustrates a moral or spiritual concept. Jesus hadn’t used parables to this extent before now. Let's find out why he used parables.
“WHAT’S UP WITH THE PARABLES, JESUS?”
INTRODUCTION: In verse 10 the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke to the people in parables. A parable is like an allegory or a fable-a practical story that illustrates a moral or spiritual concept. Jesus hadn’t really used parables in his teaching before now. He had used metaphors like telling his followers they were salt and light and things like that but now he goes into this mode of teaching to a fuller extent. We’re about to see why.
1) Jesus used parables to see who was serious. (11-15) on the surface it might look like Jesus didn’t want these people to understand. But that’s not the case. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t want people to understand, he was just illustrating the unfortunate reality-some people didn’t want to understand-their hearts had become hard and they have chosen to close their eyes to the truth.
Jesus using parables may have seemed like a confusing tactic but in reality it is a useful way to teach. When we’re learning about something new it can help if it’s likened to something already familiar to us. When Jesus spoke in parables, he used things and situations that would’ve been familiar to the people he was speaking to. They may not have made the connections to the spiritual comparisons until it was further explained but when it was explained, having the illustration would’ve made it more understandable to them.
But that’s just it-did they want to know? Did they want to understand? Understanding belongs to those who want to understand. I guarantee he had their attention and interest. You typically will gain a person’s interest when you’re telling a story. And if you leave them hanging the ones who are locked-in will want to know more.
I believe that’s what Jesus was doing. He was weeding out who would be serious vs. those who weren’t. Who would come up to him later and ask, “Would you explain what you meant back there?” The ones interested would ask questions; they would gain clarification. The ones who were really disinterested would walk away like, “I have no idea what this guy’s talking about. He’s a looney; I’m outta here.”
That’s what he’s illustrating in verse 12. Jesus is saying, “For the one who has the desire to know, more knowledge and understanding will be given to him. However, for the one who doesn’t want to know, the words that he has heard will be lost.”
What about us? When we read scripture and we come across something we don’t understand are we passive about it or are we intrigued? Sometimes the interest is there but the understanding isn’t-that’s different. We’re not going to understand everything about the bible straight out of the gate. We could spend the rest of our lives studying the bible and at the end there will no doubt still be things we don’t completely grasp.
That’s one of the things that make the bible so interesting. As we progress along the way in our spiritual walk we understand things more. We can’t eat meat while we’re still a baby. But the important thing is that we maintain interest. If we get frustrated because we don’t understand something we will be tempted to put it down and walk away from it. If we are bored with the bible we will put it down and walk away from it. The bible is not boring. Some parts may be more interesting than others but the bible is far from boring.
You may be here and you’re not a follower of Jesus but you’ve read the bible a few times. You may have gotten frustrated thinking, “This might as well be written in Chinese because I don’t understand a word of it.” Or perhaps you’ve been to church a few times. And you tried listening to what the preacher was saying but all you heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher. Don’t give up; don’t plug your ears or close your eyes. Don’t harden your heart toward Jesus’ words; don’t turn off the voice of truth.
The bible can be hard to understand but if we have the desire to understand God will reveal the truth to us and help us to understand it. I encourage you to talk to me or John and we will try to help you to understand. We may even use a parable or two. Understanding the truth is open to those who want it.
2) We are privileged to know what we know. (16-17) Jesus wanted the disciples to know that they were blessed to be seeing Jesus and hearing what he was telling them. Jesus made sure they knew that the prophets and other righteous men longed for the fulfillment of prophecy but it didn’t happen in their lifetime. The disciples were the recipients of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. It’s not that the disciples were more deserving; it’s just that it all had to be done in accordance with God’s timing. The disciples were the beneficiaries of having close fellowship with the Messiah. They were privy to being told things that no one else had been told; the secret things that have been kept hidden until now.