Most of us are familiar with a few of the parables from the bible that Jesus told to his followers. The mustard seed, the lost sheep, etc. Jesus shared important lessons and spiritual truths this way. One day, the disciples asked Him why He told parables. They wanted to know why He didn’t just tell it to them straight and skip the storytelling:
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. -Matthew 13:10-13 ESV
The disciples already knew Jesus, and had made the decision to follow Him. They had access to Him that others didn’t, and were able to have a multitude of conversations with Him about His ways and truth. The crowds that Jesus spoke to didn’t have that personal access. They didn’t have the time with Jesus the disciples did. Jesus needed to speak to the crowds on a level they could understand. He knew they wouldn’t hear or see Him unless He met them where they were. He used storytelling to help stir up their imaginations so they would come to their own conclusions about the important spiritual lesson or truth He was trying to communicate.
If Jesus just told it to them straight, they wouldn’t have figured out the lesson using their own imagination or thinking. They would have been given the lesson instead of discovering the lesson. At that time, there were already an abundance of religious leaders and laws being directed at the people without helping them think or imagine the “why” behind them.
Jesus used storytelling to meet us where we are, and to allow our minds and imaginations to develop a deeper understanding behind His teachings and the “why” behind the important spiritual lessons in those stories. What a joy it is to know that God created us to think freely! Our imaginations help us better understand the Gospel and communicate that good news to others.
What is the most memorable parable to you and the lesson behind it?
Author: Sara Fullerton