Why Jesus Taught In Parables, Part 3


D.A. Carson in The Expositor's Bible Commentary on Matthew, Vol 2 says this in a point concerning Matthew 13:13 (pp 309-310)...

This sheds much light on the parables. It is naive to say Jesus spoke them so that everyone might more easily grasp the truth, and it is simplistic to say that the sole function of parables to outsiders was to condemn them. If Jesus simply wished to hide the truth from outsiders, he need never have spoken to them. His concern for mission (9:35-38; 10:1-10; 28:16-20) excludes that idea. So he must preach without casting his pearls before pigs (7:6). He does so in parables: i.e., in such a way as to harden and reject those who are hard of heart and to enlighten--often with further explanation--his disciples. His disciples, it must be remembered, are not just the Twelve but those who were following him and who, it is hoped, go on to do the will of the Father (12:50) and do not end up blaspheming the Spirit (12:30-32) or being ensnared by evil more thoroughly than before (12:43-45). Thus the parables spoken to the crowds do not simply convey information, nor mask it, but challenge the hearers. They do not convey esoteric content only the initiated can fathom but present the claims of the inaugurated kingdom and the prospects of its apocalyptic culmination in such a way that its implications are spelled out for those in the audience with eyes to see.

Why Jesus Taught In Parables


Robert Stein, in An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus give three reasons (read, p 33ff)...

1. To conceal his teachings from those outside (Mark 4:10-12)

"Time and time again Jeuss found in his audience those who were hostile toward him. The Sadducees saw in him a threat to their sacerdotal system. His attitudes toward their doctrine (Mk 12:18-27) and above all to the abuse in their role of administering the Temple of God (Mk 11:15-19, cf 14:58) were a direct threat to their civil and religious authority (Mk 11:27-33). ...Many of the Pharisees likewise saw in Jesus a threat to their own self-righteousness (Lk 18:9-14) and their religious leadership..."

"By his use of parables Jesus made it more difficult for those who sought to find fault with him and accuse him of sedition....The parables therefore concealed his message to those outside, but privately, after they were explained by Jesus to his followers, they became revealers of his message."

"Yet we must be honest and admit Mark 4:10-12...seems to say that Jesus withheld his message from those outside not only in order that they would fail to understand but in order that they would be unable to repent and be forgiven."

2. To reveal and illustrate his message to both followers and "those outside" (Mark 12:12

"For the original lawyer as well as every reader since, the parable of the good Samaritan illustrates in an unforgettable way what it means to be a loving neighbor, and if one sought an example to illustrate the gracious love of God for sinners, where could one find a better one than in the parable of the prodigal son?"

"At times even those 'outside' did not and could not miss the point Jesus was seeking to illustrate in the parable.

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. Mark 12:12

3. To disarm his listeners (Luke 7:36-50)

"At times Jesus sought to penetrate the hostility and hardness of heart of his listeners by means of a parable."

OT example - 2 Samuel 12:14, "a perfect Old Testament example of this"

NT examples - Luke 7:36-50, "Here, in order to pierce through Simons hardness of heart and prejudice, Jesus spoke in a parable and hoped to reach Simon."

Luke 15 parables in response to Luke 15:1-2...

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." 3 So he told them this parable...

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Books: The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven J. Lawson | Believing God by RC Sproul

RC Sproul Teaching Series: The Holiness of GodBuilding a Christian Conscience Pleasing GodThe Intimate Marriage

Music: Songs from the Prayer Closet by Larry Hall (gentle piano music worthy of times of prayer, study & meditation)

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