The use of parables and picture-stories was not an unusual method of teaching in the first century. Many of the Jewish rabbis used illustrations taken from everyday life to help their disciples to understand the main points of their teaching. There was a point in Jesus’ ministry when He felt it necessary to adopt this method in His public teaching.
Jesus understood the attitudes of the people who gathered around Him. He recognized that very few individuals were genuine disciples. Many, like the religious leaders, had hearts which were so hardened and minds which were so closed that they refused to accept what He wanted them to know. They listened to Jesus only to find fault and to criticize Him. Therefore Jesus used parables to veil and hide the deep truths of His teachings.
In addition, many of the Jews began to lose interest in Jesus’ teaching after listening to the Sermon on the Mount. The kingdom that Jesus described was not what they had in mind. They envisioned a physical kingdom, while Jesus taught them that His kingdom was spiritual and not of this world. They thought in terms of earthly power and influence and retribution, while Jesus focused on spiritual characteristics such as humility and servanthood and loving enemies. They wanted someone to rally political and military forces to overthrow the oppressive Roman army, but Jesus did nothing to encourage this activity. As time went on, Jesus became more and more of a mystery person to the crowds. The priorities of Jesus were not their priorities.
Jesus, however, was happy to educate everyone who was eager to learn. Jesus wanted His disciples to know about all aspects of the kingdom because He was preparing them to be His representatives on earth after His death and resurrection. Parables were the perfect method by which He could explain to them kingdom truth. May we include ourselves among those who are eager to learn from the words of Jesus.
There are 14 messages in this series.