Jesus taught using various methods. One of the unique ways was through parables. Parables are short and simple stories that Jesus used to illustrate spiritual lessons. The parables are only recorded in the gospels. Jesus used several parables. But why did Jesus speak in parables?
Jesus spoke in parables because he wanted to teach his disciples heavenly truths using relatable, natural things and experiences. The Bible implies that He also did so because he wanted to distinguish between those who listened and accepted his message and those who continually disputed and rejected his message.
In this article, we will find out how the Bible describes a parable and whether Jesus always spoke in parables. Also, we will discuss reasons why Jesus spoke in parables and whether it was a way of hiding the truth. Additionally, we will know whether Jesus interpreted the parables and the parables Jesus used during his teaching.
How does the Bible describe parables?
The Bible describes parables as mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. When the disciples asked why Jesus was speaking in parables, he answered that it had been given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it had not been given. Matthew 13:11. The Bible implies that parables are enigmas that carry a message about the kingdom of God. They were mysteries because not all listeners could understand their meaning. Even the disciples had to seek the meaning of some of the parables from Jesus. Due to the deep meaning of the kingdom of God that the parables carried, the Bible describes them as mysteries.
The Bible also describes parables as secrets that have been kept from the foundation of the world. Matthew 13:35 That it might be fulfilled was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. Therefore, parables reveal the secrets preserved since the world was created. This explains why the parables are described as mysteries and a little challenging to understand.
Did Jesus always speak in parables?
Jesus did not always speak in parables. Some think that Jesus always spoke in parables because the Bible says: And with many such parables, He spoke the word to them as they could hear it. 34 But without a parable, He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. Mark 4:33-34. These verses imply that Jesus only spoke in parables. However, there are many instances where Jesus spoke and taught without using parables. So, what do the verses mean? These verses could have implied that Jesus only taught in parables on that occasion. Therefore, Jesus did not always teach in parables except for this single occasion.
Possible reasons for Jesus speaking in parables
Jesus taught in parables to make the teachings easy and memorable. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. It is easier to understand a story based on a place you have been or know earth more than a story of a mysterious place you do not know and never have been-heaven. By using relatable things, Jesus could easily pass the message. Additionally, parables are memorable. Just like narratives, parables are exciting and unique. It was an excellent way to communicate, especially to people who did not understand the profound heavenly truths.
Another reason He taught in parables was to provoke his listeners to seek to understand the truth. The disciples rarely asked Jesus to clarify his teachings. It was probably because they were not keen or they did not understand. Using parables provoked them to want to know more. But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. Mark 4:10. The parables provoked the disciples to deeper thinking and sought the truth where they did not understand. The parables made them ask questions which improved their understanding.
Was Jesus hiding the truth using parables?
On the contrary, Jesus was revealing the truth using the parables. Jesus did not say that he was speaking in parables so that people could not understand and so that they could not repent. The idea that Jesus was hiding the truth comes from the misinterpretation of the verses: And He said to them, “To you, it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables so that Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.‘”
Mark 4:11-12. In this verse, Jesus meant that those who oppose and continually reject the truth perceive the truth as mysteries. Note that Jesus says all things come to them as a parable, meaning the people could not understand everything concerning him and God’s kingdom. It implies that the enemy (Satan) has corrupted their understanding, so they cannot understand and repent for their sins to be forgiven.
Did Jesus interpret his parables?
Yes, Jesus interpreted some of his parables to the disciples and those who believed in him. For instance, he interpreted the parable of the Sower as recorded in the book of Mark 4:13-15 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How, then, will you understand all the parables? The Sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word sown in their hearts.
In this example, Jesus interpreted the parable to the disciples and those interested in knowing the truth. The rest who did not care did not get to hear the interpretation.
Was parables Jesus’ way of concealing God’s message?
Jesus did not intend to conceal God’s message by using parables. If he wanted to conceal the message, he would have only taught the disciples exclusively. The parables used the most relatable things his listeners had seen and experienced. They were captivating and approachable. Most of those who listened could not understand all things as indicated in the Bible as indicated in Mark 4:11 and 12. He needed to make it easier for them to understand, so he used parables.
Did Jesus explain why he was speaking in parables to his disciples?
Jesus explained that he was teaching in parables because the others did not understand God’s mysteries. He often did not use parables when teaching his disciples because they had been enabled to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God. They had opened their hearts to learning and not to oppose.
In Matthew 13:10-13, the Bible indicates that the disciples had given themselves to learning. They continually wanted to know the truth, which is why they sought to know the meaning of the parables.It also implies that he taught using parables because of their lack of understanding. Therefore, he could have tried to make it easier for them to understand.
How many parables did Jesus use during his teachings?
There are more than 30 parables that Jesus used as recorded across the four gospels. Some of the most familiar parables include The Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:17, The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Matthew 13:24, The Parable of the Mustard Seed Matthew 13:31, The Parable of the Leaven Matthew 13:33, The Parable of the Hidden Treasure Matthew 13:44, The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price Matthew 13:45, and The Parable of the Dragnet Matthew 13:47.
Did Jesus design his parables to be confusing on purpose?
The Bible does not indicate that Jesus made the parables confusing. If they were confusing, it was because of the listeners’ inability to understand God’s mysteries and not because the parables were difficult. Jesus notes that they could not understand because they lacked the ability or capacity to understand. The parables seemed confusing because they could not understand them.
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They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.