Why Jesus Spoke In Parables
08-09 AUGUST 2020 | Traditional and Prayer & Praise Services
Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon
Scripture Passage: Matthew 13:10-17 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (Video)
(Click on video below)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | Some of the most abiding teachings of the Lord Jesus are his parables. A third of his recorded teachings were in the form of parables.
His disciples asked why he spoke in parables, instead of giving more straightforward instructions. After all, stories can leave many people baffled or merely be entertaining. In Greek, the word parable means to go alongside. Parables are stories that go alongside the truth to help us appreciate that truth more deeply.
Jesus gave two main reasons why he used parables in his teaching:-
The first reason is that the people failed to recognize truth. The parables are a way to get the message through. Jesus made a distinction between his disciples and those who were not disciples. It was not that the disciples had been given esoteric teaching, but in comparison, the people were ignorant, rebellious and not attuned to God. They had eyes but did not see; they had ears but did not hear. Their hearts could not perceive and understand what God was saying. Jesus used parables to convey eternal truths because a great obstacle was people’s hard heartedness and insensitivity to spiritual truths. Unless the Lord enables our spiritual eyes, ears, and hearts to receive the message, we will not be able to do so. Through parables, Jesus quietly challenged the wrong concepts, ideas and assumptions of the people. The parables test our foundations, and challenge us to examine our own thinking, attitudes and lifestyles.
The second reason has to do with the fact that his listeners failed to repent. Having knowledge of God’s word may not result in repentance. There is something resistant in the human heart that prevents us from turning to God and being healed. For example, King David sinned against God but did not repent. He probably excused himself or denied his guilty conscience. God sent the prophet Nathan, who told a story that awakened David’s sleeping conscience. Stories have a power to penetrate our psychological defence mechanisms that deny our sinfulness. In the parables, “we find sketched the ground plan of our own life.” (Helmut Thielicke) They are like mirrors that help us to see ourselves.
Let us continue to read, hear and reflect on the parables of our Lord. They are precious truths that can touch us deeply and help us to repent. Stories have a profound effect. We can learn surprising new truths if we listen. Like a spiritual Trojan horse, they remain with us, and can deal with our stubbornness and bring about a spiritual transformation.
(Sermon Notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. The Bible has doctrinal passages (such as the Epistles), poetry (such as the Wisdom Literature), and narratives (such as the Historical OT books, the Gospels, and Acts). Which of these do you find most helpful? And why?
2. What are the two reasons why Jesus used parables in His teaching? How have you found these to be true in your own experience?
3. What are your favourite parables, and why? Share how these parables have deepened your understanding and transformation?
4. What are the parables that you find difficult to understand or apply? Can you share the reasons for these difficulties?
5. Is there a right or wrong way of interpreting the parables? Share examples you have come across that show a problematic interpretation or application of a parable.
6. Consider the power of stories. How do you think using stories and narratives can help when sharing with others about your Christian faith?