Jesus was truly THE MASTER TEACHER, [His Disciples called Him Master], and he taught the people in a true manner that was meant to bring them unto God. He did not talk down to the people are try to put them down with his manner of teaching. He built the people up and brought them together with His stories. The people themselves were great story tellers and Jesus lived among them. However, Jesus approach to the way He instructed the people were still quite unusual. His stories were memorable, but they were not transparent. The People heard them but did not necessarily understand them. They are clearer to us because of the Apostle Paul’s writings, but few of the first hearers of the parables understood them. At one point the disciples asked in frustration, “Why do you speak to [the peoples] in parables?” (Matthew 13:10). The disciples did not grasp the stories any better than the rest of the crowd did.
Before going any further, let me give you the Bible Dictionary’s working meaning of a parable: A parable is a short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth, religious principle, or moral lesson; a figure of speech in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences.
You see after the disciples question Jesus, his answer to the disciples reveals much about the purpose of His teaching. He quoted (Isaiah 6:9-10) to demonstrate that those with physical sight and hearing may still not be able to perceive the truths presented to them. For Isaiah, the “dullness” or hardness (Isaiah 13:15) of the human heart directly affects spiritual insight and understanding. People need to soften their hearts, humble themselves before God, and honestly seek the truth in order to find it.
Jesus stories are like wrapped gifts. The packaging of the story can either distract or captivate. But unless the package is opened, the gift itself remains unseen. Likewise unless one seeks the core of the parable, its truth and application, of the lessons will remain hidden. Yet when discovered, these lessons prove extremely valuable. The testimony of millions of changed lives over two thousand years attests to this fact.
When unwrapped, Jesus stories include powerful multiple applications. The same parable can strike people in different ways. For example, the parable of the Soils Matthew 13:1-23 may be “heard” by at least four distinct people depending on their identification with one of the soils. The parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32) will affect a father in quite a different way than it does a rebellious younger son or a jealous older brother.
When Jesus taught in Jerusalem during His last week, His parables focused on the acceptance or rejection of Him. This time even the priests and the Pharisees “perceived He was speaking of them.” They were stung by Jesus’ parables, and they despised Him and His message. But they were unwilling to give up their pride, learn at Jesus’ feet, and seek the forgiveness they so desperately needed. They sensed they would not appreciate what they found if they un-wrapped the parables, so they refused to seek the truth any further. In doing this, they perfectly conformed to Isaiah’s description of a people with dull hearts, hardness of hearing, and closed eyes. These religious leaders who should have been leading the people into the truth were the very ones who were the most blind to it.
Most of Jesus’ parables have one central point. Thus, Bible students should not resort to faithful interpretations that find “spiritual truth” in every minute detail of the parable. The central point of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that a “hated” Samaritan proved to be a neighbor to the wounded man. He showed the traveler the mercy and compassion denied to him by the priest and the Levite, representatives of the established religion. The one central point of this parable is that we should also extend compassion to others-even those who are not of our own nationality, race, or religion (Luke 10:25-37).
This will conclude the teachings of this portion of our lesson and I will finish it in the next session. Now let me leave you to ponder this question: Jesus quoted (Isaiah 6:9-10) to demonstrate that those with physical sight and hearing may still not be able to perceive the truths presented to them. How would you use parables differently to get the people to understand your teachings are would you use parables at all? Please Share with us your thinking on this question.
May God’s grace and mercy rest and abide with you now and forever, in Jesus name. Amen!
- The Parables of Jesus (pickandprintgallery.wordpress.com)
- John 15:1 – I Am the True Vine (readingacts.wordpress.com)
- The Parable of the Four Soils (dailybibleplan.com)
- Sermon Notes for the Prodigal Son and the Loving Father (frted.wordpress.com)
- Understanding Christ’s Parables (wordsofgrace.wordpress.com)
- Lost…explosive parables, and the fall out (thewearypilgrim.typepad.com)
- Parable of the Sower (menofmud.org)
- Jesus Tells Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (brakeman1.com)