Why did Jesus teach in parables?

Altruistico has an excellent post here. Well worth reading. So I did so. Then I discovered a comment from a polite atheist. So I decided to reply to his comment, and that’s been interesting.


It has been said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism. Before a certain point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies using common things that would be familiar to everyone (salt, bread, sheep, etc.) and their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching. Parables required more explanation, and at one point in His ministry, Jesus began to teach using parables exclusively.

The question is why Jesus would let most people wonder about the meaning of His parables. The first instance of this is in His telling the parable of the seed and the soils. Before He interpreted this parable, He drew…

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5 thoughts on “Why did Jesus teach in parables?

  1. Hey Tom; My last post is also about parables, I would surmise that you may not be in agreement with its message; nonetheless, that’s why I wish for you to take a look at it for your critique. Also it might inspire new ideas for you to write on your own blog.


  2. The parables are stunningly effective teaching devices and reflect many inspirational things about Jesus incarnate, as well as God the Father. One of the attributes of the parables is their apparent desire to draw the listener into active consideration of the underlying story and its meaning. No Pharasaical “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” here. Instead, attractive, disarming stories that have hidden within them an explosion of wisdom and enlightenment. One’s brain must be engaged and the lesson sticks. The figurative is often more revealing than the literal.

    Most of us raised in the Christian tradition have heard these parables over and over since we were small. They nonetheless have impact. Imagine, however, how revolutionary and instructive they must have been to the people in Jesus’s time and place. The average listener might not have been able to carry away from an encounter with Jesus a deep or abstract theological point. However, he most certainly would have been able to tell and re-tell the story of the Prodigal Son, or the Mustard Seed, or Lazarus and Dives, etc. etc. And not only could that listener re-tell the story and impart meaning, but his listeners could do the same. It is that quality that probably had much to do with the way Christianity rose above being dead-ended as an obscure Jewish sect and became a universal Mediterranean religion in just a few centuries. And these stories give Christianity vitality today as an evangelical religion in all parts of the world.


    1. I agree, and that is an interesting insight. The parables must have been highly important in spreading the Gospel, especially in an age when the written word was rare, and most communication consisted of people just talking to each other.

      Yet the story of the God/man who told such marvelous parables is not a parable. He died for sins. He defeated death. When we repent and gratefully accept His sacrifice and gift of salvation, we become Christians. Then as tools of instruction Jesus’ parables help us to be Christians.


  3. Thanks for the lead. I added a reference of this post to my updated King Solomon Reveals His Secret post because of what he stated about not seeing and hearing. Many of us will not grasp what the real meaning of what is being told to us because we transpose meanings to fit our own perspective. In other words we become wise in our own eyes.

    Regards and good will blogging.


    1. Glad you enjoyed altruistico’s post.

      What we want to believe is all too often not the truth. I think that is one reason why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To properly reverence God requires us to do our best to perceive the truth from His viewpoint, and the better we can do that closer to the truth we are. Next we must act upon what we know as we believe He wishes us to act.


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