Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?

You don’t have to read many books on preaching to find the common notion that Jesus’ parables were basically like sermon illustrations. It usually goes something like this: Jesus lived and ministered among first-century rural and agrarian people. Thus, he told parables about sowers sowing, seeds growing, and enemies planting weeds among the wheat. He did this, it is said, in order to illustrate the nature of the kingdom in stories that people could understand. And the moral of the story in the handbooks on homiletics is that preachers should go and do likewise; fill the sermon with stories and illustrations to contextualize the gospel and help people understand the message. Well, every preacher wants his or her sermons to be communicated effectively and understood. The problem with the above line of reasoning comes with the suggestion that Jesus’ parables are functioning like sermon illustrations. A quick look at the text would seem to suggest otherwise. 
Consider Mark 4, where Jesus tells the well-known parable of the sower. Mark says that later when Jesus was alone with the twelve, they asked him about the parables. Apparently, they didn’t understand the stories.  And if you are expecting the parables to be good little sermon illustrations, then Jesus’ answer will surprise you. He quotes portions of Isaiah 6:9-10 to explain that parables are used with a very specific purpose, namely so that “they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven” (Mark 4:12). Wait a minute! Jesus speaks in parables so that people will not perceive and not understand and not repent. What kind of sermon illustration is that? Oh, wait, maybe it’s not a sermon illustration at all. Maybe Jesus is doing something completely different. Mark tells us later that Jesus used parables with the crowds but explained everything privately to his disciples (4:34). Apparently, the parables were not intended by Jesus to make everything plain, clear, and accessible. 
I’m preaching on this passage next Sunday. I’ve got a few thoughts on what is going on, but I’d be very interested to hear what others think. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. 
Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why did he speak to the crowds in ways that were designed to disguise what he was up to? Why did he want to keep people from understanding? Why explain things privately and only to the disciples? 

3 thoughts on “Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?


    Do you believe what Jesus said to be the truth or do you believe the interpretations of others?

    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    Jesus said “Has been baptized shall be saved.”

    Many interpreters have said that Jesus meant that they had been saved the minute they believed and that they should be baptized later, as a testimony of their faith.

    Should you trust your eyes when you see what Jesus said?
    Should you trust your ears and eyes when hear interpreters and preachers teach something Jesus did not say?

    When Jesus was alive He forgave sins of whom ever He wished to prove that He had authority to forgive sin.(Matthew 9:6)

    Matthew 9:2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed.Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son;your sins are forgiven.”

    Were the paralytics' sins forgiven the very minute his friends had faith? No, they had faith before they brought the paralytic before Jesus, yet he was still in his sins. The paralytic did not have sins forgiven until Jesus made the proclamation, “Your sins are forgiven.”

    Jesus has made a proclamation for us, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved.” Jesus never said, “He who has faith only will be saved.”


    Under the New Covenant sins are always forgiven because of faith and baptism.


    YOU Are invited to follow my blog. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com


  2. He spoke in parables so they would recognize the truth of what He spoke without having the veil lifted from their eyes (meaning without unsealing the seals that God had bound before hand prematurely)

    Look at verses such as:
    [Isa 42:19] “Who is blind by my servant and deaf like the messenger I send?

    This shows Israel and Judah to be 'blind'. Similarly,

    Verses such as:
    [Isa 29:11] “And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, ‘Read this,’ he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’“; and
    [Dan 12:9] “He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.” shows God's sealing (also cryptic [Jer 32:10-14,44] and [Rev 5:1] “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

    Jesus spoke truth but did not unseal what God had sealed until he posses authority. Look at what he says in [John 16:25] “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.

    Jesus's death and resurrection provide him with authority to unseal these seals [Rev 7:3-8] which were revealed to Paul even if he started speaking plainly to his disciples about his role as Pascal lamb while he lived:

    [Rom 11:25] “For I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own conceits; that a partial blindness has befallen Israel, until the ˻multitude of nations˼ is come.

    See also [1 Cor 15:51], [Eph 1:9; 3:3-9], [Col 1:26], [Rev 10:7] etc.

    It was this partial blindness in [Rom 11:25] that Jesus was honouring in his parables.


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