Jesus frequently taught in parables to illustrate profound, divine truths. Parables are familiar to many people, but not always correctly understood. Let’s take the very familiar parable of the Good Samaritan for example, which is often misunderstood. We all know what it means when you call someone a “Good Samaritan.” That generally means that someone shows kindness, mercy, compassion, care to some other person in need. However, during the time, the Samaritans were not thought of as such. In addition to our popular misunderstanding of the Samaritan, the parable of the Good Samaritan is largely misunderstood. The story is not to make people feel guilty about not giving their money to poor people. It’s not to make people feel guilty about not taking care of those that are suffering. This story is designed to make people feel guilty for not loving God perfectly and loving others perfectly, and then running to the One who alone can provide forgiveness for that sin and eternal life. Ultimately, parables were earthly stories with heavenly meaning. Here are six important reasons Jesus taught in parables.
To Send a Message Straight to the People
It may seem hard to get now, but for the people of the time, the parables resonated. Jesus wanted to go around the teachers of the Law and bring His message directly to the people. By telling the parables, He was delivering a message that they easily got. He would share religious truths that listeners could grasp. These truths often connected with things that were going on in the daily lives of those listeners. This they could understand. What better way to get engaged in a story than to hear about something you connect with. That’s what it was like for those who listened to the parables at the time. These parables also really tapped into the imaginations and hearts of those who listened. As a result, the message was not only compelling, but also really resonated.
To Help Us Understand the Gospel
Parables required those who were listening to think. Jesus told parables to see if we really understand the Gospel. The truth is, understanding the Gospel is the beginning to a transformed life. Each Gospel is unique. They give a beautiful and complete picture of the Lord through their various writings. Mark is recognized as the Gospel of the suffering Son of God. Matthew is recognized as the Gospel of the Messiah. Luke is the Gospel of the Savior of all the people and John is the Gospel of the Son who reveals the Father. These writings may be from different authors, but ultimately share an important picture of who Jesus was.
Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: the first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” From this, we know that the Gospel is the power of God and present in every aspect of our lives. One danger that many Christians face today is failing to get the Gospel. If we don’t get the Gospel message, then that message won’t translate to our hearts and lives.
To Revolutionize the Way We See Things
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God’s people are a wandering people. We see countless examples throughout the Bible of God’s people wandering. This theme of wandering is also present in our lives. These biblical examples are traveling off-road. One popular biblical example is the parable of the Prodigal Son who left home to enter a world of sin, among others. Their brokenness caused them to wander away from God. However, through their stories we learn some important lessons, particularly about the complete presence of God. There is a common misconception that those who wander are lost but that isn’t always the case. If you’re restless, doubtful or even questioning your faith, you can learn through this journey that not all who wander are lost and there’s a hope and peace for those who travel the winding path seeking to experience God.
To Serve as Weapons in Spiritual Warfare
Many people don’t recognize the fact that parables aren’t just stories. They are actually weapons in spiritual warfare. We are living in a very serious warzone and peace is hard to find in it. What many people fail to realize is that the number one battle that takes place in our lives is in our head. The Bible tells us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:3-5). There are certain satanic strongholds that imprison us each day that we must be aware of. The battles are taking place in our thoughts. The parables of Jesus can help us better understand how to respond to those attacks.
To Speak With Authority
Jesus Christ is unquestionably the greatest teacher the world has ever known and the most recognized figure in human history. No figure has been more frequently mentioned than Him. Jesus was also the greatest help to mankind the world has ever known, and yet He was misunderstood. The Bible tells us, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes,” (Matthew 7:28-29). Compelling Truth explains that Jesus used parables in part because He spoke with authority. In fact, the scribes often quoted both long passages of the Law as well as traditions of other Jewish teachers to support their message and yet Jesus spoke from His own authority, breaking from tradition.
To Know the Mysteries of Heaven.
Before Jesus interpreted the parable of the seed and the soils, He drew His disciples away from the crowd. The crowd said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…” (Matthew 13:10-13). After this point in Jesus’ ministry, when He spoke in parables, He explained them only to His disciples. Many people wonder why Jesus let most people wonder about the meaning of the parables. This is why.
The parables are some of the most incredible and unique parts of the Bible. They were also key in sharing the Good News of Christ and the Gospel message. The next time you read a parable in the Bible like the Parable of the Sower, the Weeds, the Mustard Seed, even the Prodigal Son, look at them through fresh eyes. Ultimately, the parables and the Gospels displays the purpose of Christ, the Son of God – to fulfill prophecies, to minister to others, to save the lost and to understand God better.