Why Did Jesus use Parables so Much?
Matthew chapter 13 shares 7 of Jesus’ parables. Why did He make it so hard for people to understand what He was saying?
Matthew 13 is a time in Jesus’ ministry when He changed the way He was doing things. At the beginning of His ministry Jesus preached in synagogs. This became increasingly difficult because the Pharisees and Sadducees were watching Him and ready to tear apart His message. So from this point on Jesus began speaking on seashores, in the desert, in homes and on the roads.
Jesus used parables to teach publicly, but veil the full meaning from all, but the people who really wanted to know.
Many of the people who were flocking to hear Jesus speak were basically indifferent to His message when it conflicted with their whims. According to Matthew 13:13 they heard with their ears, but chose not to respond with their hearts. The crowds were coming to see Jesus perform in a sense. To hear the latest “philosophy” or watch another miraculous healing. But, then they walked away without it having impact their lives.
This happens in church today too. Someone walks out the door and half the eyes in the congregation follow him. We nod and smile at the pretty music and then plan our afternoons during the sermons. Not always of course. Sometimes we get really caught up in it all and really do feel like we are worshipping God. But, do we take that feeling out the door with us? Are we listening, actively, with open hearts and minds? We need to hear the word of God and we need to put it into practice.
Parables draw the listener in. They cause him to really think, to discover the truth. I read somewhere once that His use of parables represented both judgment on a majority of His listeners and grace. Judgment because the parable conceals the truth from those too indifferent or prejudiced to understand its meaning. But, also an act of grace because He was still speaking to these people and parables were apt to stimulate a waning interest. Parables draw out a person’s desire to discover truth personally instead of being spoon-fed. So Jesus was giving His listeners another chance to respond to Him.