Why Parables?

Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:

‘You will indeed listen, but never understand
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing
and they have shot their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn –
and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Matthew 13:10-17

For once the disciples ask a great question, one I, at least, still struggle with today. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why not just come right out and say things?

It looks to me that Jesus gives two answers. First, (which he actually says second) “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, or understand.” To me it sounds like He is saying that some people will have hardened hearts, so no matter what He says they won’t understand. So why the need to speak in parables? I think it’s so they KNOW they don’t understand. Many non-believers in our society will try to argue about the Bible, thinking they understand it, but in reality are clueless. It’s very frustrating for all parties involved. But you’ll notice, they rarely do that with parables.

Second, (which he actually says first), “To you it is given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given.” To which I always ask: why? Why can’t everyone know?

Well, the answer is in the first quote I gave, which Jesus actually said second. I think this passage means that God only gives the secrets of Heaven to some, and those some are the people whose hearts aren’t hardened. The people who listen to God, rather than just hearing.

It’s a hard truth for us, but not everyone is going to accept God. It’s really a shame because God loves and is ready to forgive anyone. But He lets us make our own choices, and there will always be those who choose not to listen. And no one, not even Jesus, can force them to. The best we can do is pray for them to have a change of heart.

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