Why did Jesus use parables?

The Gospel of Luke is filled with parables that Jesus told his listeners.

I asked Rudy Ross to share his understanding of parables for today’s YouTube video. Rudy believes much of the Bible is parable-like.

That doesn’t mean that the Bible is fiction, but rather a picture that has a deeper meaning than a surface reading of the text.

For example, Rudy believes the Lord’s Prayer can be viewed as a parable about how God supplies the needs of his children, who are willing to ask his help.

Listen carefully to the video and you will be blessed by Rudy’s insights.

The Parable of the Sower.

Jesus told the Parable of the Sower to a crowd, but gave no interpretation.

The parable baffled his followers and they asked him to explain it. He told them:

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that
‘looking they may not perceive,
and listening they may not understand.’”
(Luke 8.10)

What did Jesus mean by this statement and why did he use parables as the primary means of communication?

Because people were so filled with their own preconceived beliefs about God’s activity, Jesus could not approach them with direct communication.

His disciples were willing to leave their homes and work to follow Jesus. Jesus could speak to them with direct speech, because their open minds and hearts were receptive to his teaching.

Parables Open Closed Minds

Parables are stories that make us see reality from new angles and don’t allow us to evade the message of the teacher.

They capture the interest and imagination of the listener. Instead of going through the front door with direct speech, they circle around the house and enter through a back window of the mind.

Parables get the listeners on the side of the speaker before they are confronted with the truth of the message.

The way the prophet Nathan confronted King David with his sin surrounding adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband is a perfect picture of how parables work.

Nathan told David a parable about a rich man who seized a poor man’s beloved sheep to sacrifice for a meal (2 Samuel 11.1-6).

When David heard the story he said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die;

“He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (2 Samuel 11.5-6).

Nathan revealed the intent of his parable and said, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 11.7).

God accomplished his purpose through Nathan’s story. David repented and publicly confessed his sin.

Psalm 51 is a record of David’s public confession.

Seeing Ourselves

Parables allow us to see ourselves. Their aim is to open our eyes, stimulate our conscience and move us to action.

If we assume that we already know the meaning of the parable, we will be no different than Jesus’ audience.

They were blind to his message because they had God in a mental “box” and couldn’t see beyond their own beliefs.

If we will humbly put aside our preconceived ideas and seek the insights of the Holy Spirit, God will be able to confront our attitudes and actions.

His goal is to bless us by drawing us into living a life like Jesus, a Jesus-kind-of-life.

About This Blog

I am indebted to an excellent book by Klyne Snodgrass, “Stories with Intent.” It is a very readable and insightful treatment of the parables. I will be using Dr. Snodgrass’ book to inform our study of the parables in Luke.

Please email your prayer requests to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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