The Purpose of the Parables

Almost everyone likes the parables of Jesus. These short stories highlight some feature of common life in His day and draw out spiritual truths valid for all time. The problem is: Why are the parables sometimes hard to understand? What, in fact, is their overall purpose in the teaching of ministry of Jesus? The answer Jesus gave to His disciples surprises us: He told parables in order to enlighten some and to leave others in the dark! “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (13:12). As He had declared before in a prayer of praise to His Father, God hides His truth from the “wise and prudent” and unveils it to little babies (11:25). That is, those who rely on their own reason and intuition to know God remain in the dark, while the ones who humbly confess their ignorance and ask for mercy receive light. Here, He quotes the words of God when Isaiah was commissioned to proclaim His coming judgment and salvation to a nation that would not hear (13:14-15; Isaiah 6:9-10). However we interpret this strange passage, it is clear that those who “see” and “hear” with understanding and faith are blessed, for many have sought such revelation in vain (13:16-17). Though the Old Testament revelation was clear in some ways, those who have the unveiling of God’s mysteries in Christ are recipients of a priceless gift. Does it not therefore befit us not only to hear and heed the words of Christ, but to thank and praise God for granting us the inestimable privilege of knowing God through faith in the Gospel of His Son?