8 Reasons Jesus Preached in Parables

by | May 22, 2020 | Purpose & Identity

Jesus was a master storyteller. He communicated clearly by using many stories, analogies and metaphors.

Parables have been used since ancient times to convey truth in a memorable way. While Jesus didn’t invent the parabolic method of teaching, He perfected it.

Herbert Lockyer wrote, “In the entire realm of literature there is no book so rich in its parabolic and allegoric material as the Bible.”

The words “parable” and “parables” combined appear 47 times in the Gospels. They come from a Greek word parabole (par-ab-ol-ay’) meaning, “a similitude, a symbolic, fictitious narrative of common life conveying a moral, an adage, or a proverb.” So a parable is:

—A comparison of two seemingly dissimilar objects.

—A short, simple story of common life that conveys a moral lesson or spiritual truth.

—An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

Parables illustrate the invisible (spiritual) world by using analogies from the visible (natural) world. Scholars differ on the exact number of parables Jesus told. He used over 100 metaphors and told at least 36 actual parables—15 are recorded in Matthew, 6 occur in Mark (4 are repeats) and 35 appear in Luke (16 are repeats, 19 are unique).

Here are eight reasons why Jesus preached in parables:

  1. To fulfill prophecy: “Jesus said all these things to the crowds in parables. And without a parable He did not speak to them, to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will say things which have been kept secret since the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 13:34-35). One thousand years before Jesus came, the Psalmist Asaph predicted He would preach in parables (Ps. 78:2-3). Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about His life, ministry, death, burial and Resurrection.
  2. To reveal truth: “The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered them, ‘It is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:10-11). The mysteries of the kingdom are contained in the parables of the kingdom. Eleven parables in Matthew open with the phrase “the kingdom of heaven is like” or “like unto.” Jesus’ parables contain profound truths (secrets hidden from the foundation of the world). Parables open our eyes to deeper insights into Christ and His kingdom and give us a greater glimpse into the spiritual realm.
  3. To conceal truth: This sounds contradictory to the previous point, but it’s not. Jesus explained, “‘Therefore I speak to them in parables: “Because seeing they look, but do not see. And they listen, but they do not hear, neither do they understand.” In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: “By hearing, you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing, you will see and shall not perceive”‘” (Matt. 13:13-14). Not everyone was intended to understand Christ’s message. He skillfully used parables to throw curve balls and confuse those who were not open to His message. Like the four types of soil in the Parable of the Sower (wayside, stony, thorny, good ground) some people’s hearts were not receptive to the seed of His words. Parables have a unique way of withdrawing the light from those who love darkness. They have an element of mystery, forcing the listener to meditate on them to fully fathom their meaning. The casual listener is left baffled, hearing the superficial story but failing to grasp the underlying truths conveyed. Carnal minds can’t comprehend spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14).
  4. To illustrate truth: Parables provide examples of how truth applies to everyday life. When a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-36). In it, Jesus redefined the term “neighbor” as any person of any race who is in need, not just a person who lives nearby, and He showed how a true neighbor treats others. To illustrate the need for persistence in prayer, Jesus shared the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8). His point? If persistence pays with a crooked judge who has no interest in your case, how much more so with the just Judge (God) who has a supreme interest in your case.
  5. To make truth relevant and practical: Around 25% of the Bible is comprised of precepts, laws and raw truths. The other 75% consists of stories of real people that demonstrate how truth applies to real-life, everyday situations. The stories in the Bible have been preserved for our instruction and inspiration (1 Cor. 10:11). The reason “the common people heard [Jesus] gladly” (Mark 12:37, KJV) was He brought complex, spiritual truth down their level by using terms they could easily relate to. He spoke their lingo when he compared God’s kingdom to farming, fishing, cooking, shepherding and agriculture.
  6. To captivate people’s attention: Jesus avoided dry, dull sermons on the nuances of the law. Instead, He told interesting stories that captured people’s attention and stirred their imagination. People were “astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22, MEV). When the Pharisees sent soldiers to arrest Him, they returned emptyhanded and said, “No man has ever spoken like this Man!” (John 7:46). Jesus conveyed His message in a way that fascinated His followers and confounded His critics.
  7. To enable His audience to retain His message: It’s much easier to remember a story than facts, data and boring information. Statistics show that people only remember about 10-20% of what they hear, but about 30-40% of what they hear and see. Parables create mental pictures that help us retain their message. Jesus’ parables are still with us 2,000 years later because people were able to recall and record them in detail for our benefit. Great sermons are not the ones with the most information, but the ones people can remember months or years later. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was so short (two to three minutes) the photographer didn’t have time to set his camera up to take a picture, but millions have memorized his speech. A famous orator, Edward Everett, spoke that day for two hours but few know anything he said. It’s not how long you talk; it’s how much you say. Jesus spoke volumes with few words.
  8. To expose His enemies’ wrong motives: In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:1-3, 25-32), Jesus included the “older brother” as a direct rebuke to the Pharisees for their holier-than-thou attitude toward sinners. He used the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:14-15, 19-31) to expose their greed and apathy for the poor. Jesus told the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14) to confront the self-righteous and to prove a repentant heart is better than a religious show. In the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman (Mark 12:1-12), Jesus expressed how the religious elite rejected God’s messengers and even God’s own Son.

Everyone loves stories, right? So, reread Christ’s stories and discover their hidden treasures. Kingdom mysteries are buried in the King’s parables, and He wants to reveal them to you! Grab a shovel and start digging. {eoa}

Ben Godwin is the author of five books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. You can read more articles or order his books @ bengodwin.org.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

It's been a few days since the FBI raided President Donald Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago, and the Biden Administration has yet to explain to the American people why they did what's never been done in American history—the government raiding the home of a former president....

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

Israel Prophecy: The Enemy is Stirring an Unimaginable Conflict

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJFFqAgykmU A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect late Sunday in a bid to end nearly three days of violence that killed dozens of Palestinians and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis,...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

Kingdom Economics: Why is America Declining Spiritually So Quickly?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a surprisingly strong July Employment Report.  Total nonfarm employment was 528K (398K previously, 250K expected).  Private nonfarm employment was 471K (404K previously, 230K expected). The headline unemployment rate dropped to...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

Messianic Rabbi: He That Has an Eye, Let Him Hear

It is interesting that, as a Messianic rabbi the question I am asked most often by Christians is if I believe that they as Christians have to celebrate, or observe, the biblical Holy Days. They are usually asking about those days listed in Leviticus 23: Shabbat, Yom...

RECENT ARTICLES

How the Holy Spirit Is Preparing America

As the crackdown against Christianity in America grows, it is a cycle believers have seen before. While no one celebrates their religious freedom coming under attack, God has used this persecution...
Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Dealing Effectively with the Dynamics of Change

Change can be challenging. Some people look forward to change and embrace it. Some people dread change and try to avoid it. Since change is inevitable, so here are some of the dynamics surrounding change and the specific strategies to deal with change more...

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

God’s Holy Interruption Is Coming Soon

This past weekend I preached at The Roads Church, a charismatic congregation located in the tiny town of Norris City, Illinois. Located amid cornfields, the population is only 1,325, but almost that many people visit the church on weekends. They come from all over...

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

The Biblical Way to Rise Above Mediocre Expectations

We spend a lot of life figuring out if we “measure up,” a phrase someone coined in the mid-1800s. Even in childhood, we begin comparing ourselves with siblings and kids at school, and it never seems to stop. The problem goes back to Cain and Abel, doesn’t it? Most of...

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

A Better Way to Witness to Others for Christ

”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Rom. 2:4). Looking retrospectively at my past as an atheist, I can see where God...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]