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Christianity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Why Jesus Spoke in Parables

by Jacob George, Ph D

As Jesus extended His universal invitation to all who "labour and are heavy laden," saying, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls," Matthew 11:28-29. Then He ended one phase of His ministry and began a much broader, more personal, evangelical ministry.  

Matthew 12 describes the outrage of the religious leaders that developed in response to their Messiah, accusing Him of using satanic power to cast out demons.  Matthew 12:24 concludes, "But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."  Then the Lord Jesus cautioned them of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

That very day Jesus' ministry changed: He no longer proclaimed to Israel (who looked for an earthly kingdom) that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.  He began to call individuals to surrender by faith to His yoke, or His Lordship, in His spiritual kingdom, but the Jews were so set on an earthly kingdom that they could not accept Christ's teaching.  Matthew 12:50 says, "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."  He turned His ministry to individuals and no longer directed it to nations or groups.

On the very day that Jesus changed His ministry focus, He began to speak in parables.  Jesus opened the understanding of His disciples to the mysteries of His spiritual kingdom, but those very parables obscured the truth from those who had rejected Him and who had blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.  He used parables to bring the teaching of the kingdom of heaven down to their level of thinking so they could comprehend.  

Matthew 13:10-11 says, "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  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."

What a mystery it is to the carnal mind to try to understand the spirituality of the kingdom of Christ.  In the days of Christ, the multitude was looking for an earthly kingdom.  The Jews were looking for the entire world to come under the kingship of Christ and the rule of their own nation.  The Lord Jesus began teaching His believers in parables so they would understand the spiritual nature of His kingdom. It was not a kingdom of this world, but was to be set up in the hearts of the children of men.

The genuine believers who hungered for wisdom to understand the truth found Jesus ready and willing to explain every detail.  Each time the Lord Jesus used a parable, His disciples, His true followers, found that He was more than willing to give them a full explanation.  We see in Mark 4:34, "But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples."  His disciples were not left in the dark.  Those parables were not used to obscure the truth, but to teach His true followers even today.  His parables beautifully illustrate at our level of thinking the meaning of the spiritual kingdom of heaven.

Jesus showed wherein this great mystery lay by opening prophesies to them.  In Matthew 13:14-15 He said, "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: 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."

They had a heart problem and they were deliberately closing their hearts to the truth.  They had figured out how they wanted the prophecies fulfilled, and they would not accept anything else.  The Jews saw no mystery at all in the kingdom of a Messiah who would bring the whole world under His reign and rule, but they missed the true meaning of the spiritual kingdom of heaven.  The Lord Jesus was revealing by parables the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

The parables beginning in Matthew 13 reveal the mystery of the spiritual kingdom as service from the heart to Christ as King.  The Lord Jesus is teaching in these parables that the kingdom of heaven is within you; it is established on the throne of your heart. 

Mark 4:11 tells us, "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables."  

The Lord was saying that their minds were not opened to understand. They did not want to know; therefore, the Lord closed their minds so they would not understand.  He completely changed His style of preaching to speak in parables so that the carnal mind could not comprehend.  The mysteries of His kingdom are to be known only by those whom the Lord has opened the understanding of the mind and heart.

Jesus narrowed His teaching down to a personal, spiritual service to God from the heart.  The verses preceding our text say, "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing… But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."  Then He told His disciples personally in the words of our text, "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower" with a spiritual ear and spiritual understanding. 

See Also:

The Bible has four gospels. Why?
With the report of four men on the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have a much richer view because they each saw a different central theme of the ministry of Christ.

The Lesson of Surrender, Devotion and Love from Jesus Christ's Life
I would like to share with you here some of my humble thoughts concerning these important parts of Jesus' life, birth, death and resurrection, which we celebrate yearly.

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