Why Did Jesus Speak In Parables?
Why did Jesus speak in parables? Parables are a type of ‘idiom’ or figurative speech. We see that much of what is recorded in the Bible is in symbolic pictures that require interpretation, rather than ‘translation’. The great thing about the Bible is that the recorded visions, dreams and parables given by the LORD are also interpreted for us in writing. As we read all these marvelous accounts in the Word, it’s worthwhile to note that only those of the LORD were given the divine interpretation of the things of God.
While interpretation is only given to believers, God gave visions and dreams to both believers and non-believers. Non-believers had to seek out believers to provide interpretation, for even their diviners and magicians could not receive the meanings. Daniel was able to receive the knowledge of what Pharaoh dreamt, as well as the interpretation of those dreams (Dan 2). Likewise, he received the interpretation of his own visions and dreams (Dan 7). Joseph also had the gift of interpreting his own dreams and the dreams of others (Gen 37; 40 and 41). The Apostle John wrote down his visions and subsequent interpretations given by the angel of the LORD, or the LORD Himself in that great book of Revelation. The prophet Joel wrote that “your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), speaking of the last days.
Unlike dreams and visions, parables are stories that require interpretation to understand a greater truth. We do not see any record of Jesus having or interpreting visions and dreams throughout His New Testament ministry on earth. He did, however, speak to the Jews in parables. And, as with visions and dreams, He did not give the interpretation of His parables to the lost, but only to those who believed – namely, His twelve disciples (i.e. Luke 8:11). Thus, we continue on with my opening question: Why did Jesus speak in parables?
Hiding His Identity
Did you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t just come right out and say Who He was? Even today, as we read His Word, we can only see the ‘clues’ He gave back in those days.
No doubt, demons knew Who He was: ‘The Holy One of God’, yet Jesus hushed them (Mark 1:23-25; Isa 49:7).
The healed leper knew Who He was, but Jesus told him to tell no one (Luke 5:14).
Peter, James and John (the brother of James) saw the most incredible vision on the 'Mount of Transfiguration' (Mat 17:9; Mark 9:9), yet were told by Jesus not to tell anyone…until AFTER the resurrection.
That IS the answer, confirmed in 1 Cor 2:8 “the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The purpose of God coming in the flesh was to shed His own blood (Acts 20:28) for the remission of sin (Heb 9:22), to redeem us (Is 44:6; Gal 3:14) and impute righteousness unto us (2 Cor 5:21). For this reason, Jesus purposefully gave ‘clues’ to those who would later nail Him to the cross. Let’s look at a few of them here and see the reaction of the Jews:
· Forgiving sin (Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7) – “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"
· I AM (Ex 3:14; John 8:58) – “Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
· I and My Father are One (Deut 6:4; John 10:30) – “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.”… “The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
· The Son of God (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 22:70) – “Then they said, ‘What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth. Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate."
See, Hear and Understand
In Matthew 13:10-15 “The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted…I speak to them in parables because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. ‘In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'” NAS (Is 6:9-10)
Is it therefore, God that makes blind, deaf and dumb? No. The one who blinds is found in 2 Cor 4:4 “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Just as the Jews could NOT see that Christ Jesus was and is the IMAGE OF GOD Himself; they could not hear the Truth of His words as to His identity; they could not understand that God, their Savior had come to shed His own blood to take away their sin, there are Jews and Christians today who profess to know God yet MISS THE MARK. 2 Cor 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” These same ones consider the claim that Jesus is Almighty God to be blasphemous! He’s ‘a god’ or a god ‘equal’ to, but forever ‘subject’ to The Father; He’s a ‘second person’ of the Trinity; He’s just the Jewish Messiah (son of David) or a mere prophet.
Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the LORD says--Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God.”
Rev 1:17b-18 “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Rev 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this”
A Strong Delusion
Jesus purposefully spoke in such a way, that those whose hearts were hardened, full of arrogance and pride, would not be able to see, hear or understand the things of God. Let’s look at His prayer of rejoicing in Luke 10:21 “At that very time He [Jesus] rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”
See, all of us, believers and unbelievers have the written Word of God. We can read it in the various translations and follow the various interpretations of priests, theologians, teachers and pastors. This is not what brings the ‘Light’, the ability to ‘see’, ‘hear’ and 'understand'. The Jews were given the Tanakh with the Torah, yet MISSED their Messiah, the only True God, YeHoWsHua Ha'Meshiyach! Why? What was prophesied of them in Isaiah 6:9-10 again? Their hearts became dull; they scarcely heard; they closed their eyes. Jesus was sent only to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Mat 15:24); He came to save them, to cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to understand; to raise the dead and to give them life (Ez 37; John 10:10; 1 John 5:12).
All throughout Revelation we read “he who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says”. Just as it was in the time of Ezekiel, “Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house”, it is prophesied that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” This apostasy will have come to full fruition, just before the LORD returns (2 Thes 2:3).
If we go now to 2 Thes 2:11 we read, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” Truly, it will be as it was in the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-29). Noah preached, right up to the day of judgment…and no one would ‘hear’.
Flesh and Blood has not Revealed This
All of us are familiar with Jesus’ question to Simon-Peter in Mat 16:15 and Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (vs. 16)
How do Jews and Gentile Christians view this confession: “The Son of the Living God”? Jews knew God’s Son would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”, according to Isaiah 9:6. They do not split God into persons and never will. Jews also knew God’s Son would be a ‘son of David’ (Mat 9:27; 15:22), and that He was. Gentiles, on the other hand, attribute the concept of the ‘Son of God’ as the ‘son of David’, a separate and subordinate being from His Father. Isaiah’s prophecy is really inconceivable to them. Peter was not a Gentile, but a Jew. His confession agreed with Isaiah. Furthermore, look at what he wrote in 2 Peter 1:1 “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and a Savior, Jesus Christ…”
There is no way I or any human being can reveal the identity of Jesus Christ to anyone, as stated in Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession in vs. 17 “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” If you still believe the Father (invisible, omnipresent Spirit – John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17; Col 1:5) is a separate ‘person’ from Jesus, see, hear and understand that the Father is the LORD (YHVH or YHWH) and the LORD God said in Isaiah 45:21, “And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me.”
1 Tim 2:4 "[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Is this your desire, too?
“Open our eyes, LORD; we want to see Jesus ~ to reach out and touch Him and say that we love Him; Open our ears, LORD, and help us to listen...
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