When Jesus’ ministry first started he often spoke in very plain language about things that everyone could understand. As His ministry progressed, he began to speak in mostly parables. This puzzled the disciples and they asked Him why. What was Jesus’ response?
This was Jesus’ response: “And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”‘ (Mark 4:11-12)
Here are reasons Jesus taught in parables
Parables were easy to understand
A lot of spiritual discussions revolve around abstract concepts and ideas. Because of this, some people avoid them as impractical and unhelpful. Jesus wanted to bypass the teachers of the law and take His message straight to the people, which means He had to communicate in a way that would resonate with them.
By using parables, Jesus was able to share religious truths that could immediately connect with His listeners.
Parables and Self-Evaluation
So, as we read Christ’s parables in the Gospel narratives, let us be confident that while certain of the parables can be very challenging to understand, the Holy Spirit who indwells all of God’s people will “guide believers into all truth” (John 16:13) and God’s Word which contains parables is truth Yet, if the parables of Christ make no sense to us, or if their meaning eludes others to whom we are ministering, let us consider Jesus’ teaching about His rationale for speaking in parables. Indeed, we must always evaluate ourselves, and others, in light of God’s Word in order to make sure that our lack of understanding of a given parable is not a symptom of a wider rejection of spiritual truth.
Parables Reveal Truth With Specificity
According to this passage, we become privy to the most ancient and profound secrets ever told when we study the stories of Jesus. The Old Testament prophets received hundreds of specific prophecies about the coming Messiah, but they often couldn’t make sense of them—they knew there would be a Messiah who would reign forever, but they also knew He would die. From their perspective, it didn’t seem to fit together. We have the benefit of interpreting those passages after the Messiah’s earthly life and teaching—events which fulfilled three hundred prophecies and provide context for understanding those that remain unfulfilled.
Parables reveal the hearts of the listeners
Sometimes people only value concepts that are complex and difficult to understand. It makes them feel smart and important. This describes many of the Pharisees. People like this dismiss ideas that are too accessible. But that’s because instead of seeking truth, these leaders wanted to be the sole owners and administrators of esoteric concepts. Because Jesus’ parables were accessible to everyone, the Pharisees likely dismissed them as silly and irrelevant.
This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that people would be “hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9).
Why did He respond this way? One reason Jesus taught in parables was to separate the ones who truly believed from the people who were just going along with the crowd or who were there to cause trouble. Jesus spoke in a way that those whose hearts were open and willing to hear the true meaning would, but those who were only there for a show or who thought they were holy did not really “hear” the message.