Why Jesus taught in Parables, Matt. 13:10-17
The first thing you will notice is that the question about parables comes right on the heals of the parable of the sower and is followed by Jesus explanation of the parable of the sower. Understanding what Jesus means in his answer will be enlightened by his explanation of the parable of the sower.
You will also notice that the parable of the sower follows the question in chapter 12 about who his mother and brothers are. "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is . . . ." And that follows His teaching on the unclean spirits return to his house, and the sign of Jonah, a tree is known by its fruit, all of which teach faith in Jesus or some dynamic of that. The context here is significant because of that.
Now then, Jesus after leaving the house, sat beside the sea and must have been teaching that way, until the crowd became too large then he had to get in a boat and sat down again.
Jesus was in a boat speaking the parable because the crowds were so great that He had to or they would have crowded him so much he probably would have been in the water anyway. The boat afforded him the opportunity to both speak more audibly the throng of people to be heard by all(due to acoustics of water) and to be seen by all because he was out on the water, sort of a stage.
The whole crowd stood on the shore.
The teacher sat, the students stood.
It also says that Jesus spoke many parables to them at that time. This was the main one or the one that contained the main theme of His teaching that day.
the crowd was there to hear his words, his teachings. Did they really want to know the truth or did they just want to hear something sensational? There were probably people who desired either one.
the Sower is an odd story to tell the crowd. They must have asked among themselves, "why is he talking about planting seeds? rather than something more important? Like some teaching on the law or some important lessons on the Messianic hope. Maybe they were hoping to hear or see something sensationally memorable.
They must have been asking that question 'why was he talking about sowing seeds?
Let me come back to what I stated earlier:
You will also notice that in ch.12 His mother and brothers were asking for Him and stated that those who "did the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." What is that will? It is to believe in Him as the Messiah. Tie this to
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
The work of God is to believe in Jesus, At least that is what Jesus said in
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
So the parable of the sower speaks of that will, belief in Jesus. It all ties into that purpose.
The parable speaks of those various types of hearers who get excited about Jesus being the Messiah, but then doubts and events and teachings become very difficult for them to swallow and they turn away in disbelief. However, some, like the disciples and the women who ministered to Him are convinced of who He is and stick to Him.
I. Why Speak in Parables?
I. Why Speak in Parables?
After Jesus gives this parable of the sower the disciples ask Him why He speaks in parables. In reality this is the same question those standing on shore must be asking. Remember, they are in a boat anchored some distance off shore. It would be very easy for them to ask Him a question without everyone on shore knowing what was going on. To the shore audience it was a lull in the teaching. But to the disciples it was packed with truth.
When they asked Him about the parable there were incredulous. Why would you talk about sowing seeds? Why not just come right out plainly and tell them who you are?
Well, He had been doing that. The healing of the blind man, casting out demons, raising the dead girl, healing the woman with blood issue; not to mention His teachings to John’s disciples, the beatitudes, the teaching He was the Lord of the Sabbath. The List could go on. He had been showing them clearly by His actions, miracles that show who He is and they didn't get it. He was telling them who He was and they didn't get it. At least, many of them didn't. And He wasn't telling secrets by speaking in parables.
1. To expose the heart of the hearer
1. To expose the heart of the hearer
it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
He speaks in parables to expose both those who do not believe (they will not understand the parable) and those who do believe (they will understand the parable).
What is a mystery here? It is not a secret that is unknown. This is not like ‘unsolved mysteries’ where someone is trying to find out who committed a crime. It is not like trying to discover what happened to the lost city of Atlantis or Stonehenge, or secrets of the pyramids. This is not something that is hidden. Rather it is clear to those who understand.
In other words, as He states it, It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom . . ..
Notice also that it is given . . ..
this is in keeping with the teaching that knowing the gospel, ie. believing the gospel is something that is not made known by flesh and blood, but by the Spirit of God, the Father, using the Word that is sown.
To some the knowledge is given to others (of God’s own choosing) is not given.
The person who hath, v.12, is the one who believes the Word that is sown. Who believes the truth about Jesus.
He shall be given more abundance. Abundance of what? Truth, that’s what. He who believes will be given more and more understanding of truth. It all starts with belief in Jesus. This is the fruit of the parable. To know more, to increase in understanding like Paul teaches and prays in his epistles.
The person who does not have is the person to whom the Word is sown about Jesus but does not believe. What shall be taken from him is the Word. In other words, they will hear the Word preached but not understand it. They will not bear fruit of spiritual growth. God will not give his pearls of truth to those who are just going to think it is foolishness.
So then He speaks in parables to expose the heart of the hearer to themselves and to others.
2. to fulfill prophecy,
2. to fulfill prophecy,
they seeing see not;
hearing they hear not,
neither do they understand
in other words seeing + hearing = understanding. At least, that should work out like that.
This shows that the people who see Jesus do the works, and hear His teaching ought to understand who He is. But they do not because of the hardness of heart. As Isaiah prophecies. It is not that Jesus doesn't want the hearers to know who He is. He is making that truth very clear to them.
Notice how Isaiah says it. vss. 14,15
They will hear, but not understand, they shall see, but not perceive. Same equation as above. The hearers will not put two and two together to make four.
Why? v.15 gives the answer. Their hardness of heart. They have purposely closed their ears and eyes. They do not want to know the truth. Now that seems very odd. You would think everyone would sincerely want to know the truth.
The peoples heart has become dull. It means to become calloused or made fat. Like fat so it cushions and you don’t feel the bite of the truth as much so as to be affected by it. Acts 28:27 Paul quotes from this same Isaiah 6 passage to the Jews after he had preached Christ to them from Moses and the prophets. Some believed many others didn’t.
The prophecy comes from Dt. 32:15 where Moses reviews that Israel in the wilderness saw and experienced all the blessings of God in the gospel-bread from heaven, water out of the rock, shepherding by the good shepherd, and so on. But because of their fatness of heart, they forsook God, lightly esteemed the Rock of His salvation, Jesus Christ. rejected God’s good news though they saw and heard it. They didn’t understand.
Jesus even said to the Pharisees, if you don't believe what I say believe the works I have done. The works show who I am. John 10:25, 38
So He wasn't trying to keep secret who He is from them. He was simply exposing the two hearts: those who hear and want to believe and those who hear and don't. Those who want to hear the truth have more than enough evidence to show who He is. Those who hear the parable show they believe by their understanding.
The word that is being sown in the parable is that Jesus is the Messiah. The word is not the parable, but the OT Scriptures that teach who Jesus is, like He did in His hometown synagogue, when he taught from Isaiah 61 and clearly taught the prophet was talking about Him.
This is what Jesus did as prophecied in Isaiah.
The point that Jesus is showing from this is that the people have all the evidence of seeing and hearing that they need to come to a logical and reasonable conclusion of the truth that He is the long awaited Messiah. There is more than enough evidence for one who truly wants to know and believe. In other words the fault lies within themselves, not with Jesus.
He speaks in parables to reveal their true hearts. Not because He is trying to keep them from believing.
In v.16 he commends the disciples because they do believe. They have put two and two together and come up with four. They have seen the works of Jesus, heard His teaching and concluded He is the Messiah. They get the trophy.
v.17, The last statement refers to the prophets and to guys like Abraham who believed in Jesus before He was born. They believed though they did not get to see His works or hear His teaching. So the disciples were especially blessed. Nevertheless, we are blessed too, though we didn't get to see His works or hear Him teach we do get to read about them in the scripture.
So He speaks in parables to expose the two kinds of heart and to fulfill prophecy. The end result is that you would see what side your heart falls on this parable pendulum.
Which side do you fall on?