10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
I have heard many preachers and teachers giving sermons and teachings about why Jesus used parables when he was talking to the crowds that followed him. Invariably they would say that for Jesus to make the things of heaven known to earthly oriented people parables helped give some idea of the concept that he was trying to bring forward. "The kingdom of heaven is like..." is a standard phrase in the new testament. Yet if this were the case then wouldn't the apostles know what Jesus meant when he spoke about the "Sower who went out to sow?"
If they knew what was said the first time he wouldn't have started explaining the meaning to the apostles when he was in private. This act of explaining things to his disciples was often repeated. It wasn't until Jesus was about to be sacrificed that they finally said they were able to understand a parable when spoken. Even then they didn't always understand what he was saying. Such as when he talked about his death and resurrection. They still debated what that meant.
What better reason could I give except the reason Jesus himself gives for the using of parables.
Vs. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
The reason he uses parables when speaking to the crowd is to hide its meaning from them. It is to keep them in darkness. He wants to prevent the people from understanding. Really? Why?
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
God did not want to heal his people, Israel as a nation, at that time. Yet Jesus went about healing all who come to him. Delivered them. Fed them. Raised a few from the dead. Why would he do these miracles but keep his words hidden from Israel? As a sign that God is among them. Even when he appeared before the Sanhedrin, they could not dispute his miracles but only what he said.
This is not the first time this has occurred. Jesus was quoting the commission given to Isaiah the prophet at the beginning of his ministry. Isaiah 6 vs. 9-13
Why was he given this task? Because God's judgement was over the nation of Judah for their unbelief. Israel was given a charge to follow the law and they failed miserably. God was bringing an end to their nation. Yet there was the promise that a remnant would survive.
What has this to do with Israel in Jesus' time? They too had some tasks given to them as recorded in:
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (kjv)
This speaks to the time when Jesus was walking on the earth. Yet because they were not even close to fulfilling the prophecy a time of judgement was about to come upon Israel. Yet before this is to happen Jesus needs to complete his task as Saviour and sacrifice himself for the sins of the world. The order of Melchizedek is a global priesthood and this high priest called Jesus is ready.
So judgement for Israel is coming and Jesus speaks in parables to keep them in the dark. Yet as God spoke to Isaiah he will make sure that a remnant of Israel remains behind. For a time (the last two thousand years) grace has appeared to the Gentiles. We are being brought into the spiritual house called Israel. As this time closes for the Gentiles the grace of God will return back to the Jew and already has been taking place.
Going back to Jesus talking to the crowds... He talks in parables to keep them in darkness but explains the meaning later to those who are the called. Judgement of Israel and reconciliation of Gentiles was then about to take place. It is both a sad moment and a happy moment depending on who you are.
God has his reasons for using parables. I hope I have given you a glance into those reasons.
Website administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada