Jesus’ Use of Parables

MEMORY VERSE: “Nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear.” —Luke 8:17,18

MATTHEW 13:10-17, 34, 35

A PARABLE is a story told to illustrate a point of truth. Jesus’ parables were based largely on the way of life, and the experiences of the people of his day with whom he was associated; that is, the Israelites. The people could understand the stories; and for those who were of the right heart condition, and being drawn to Jesus to be his disciples, Jesus explained many of his parables in terms of truths pertaining to the messianic kingdom hope.

The disciples asked Jesus, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” His reply was, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” To this Jesus added, “Because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” The “them” in this narrative were the unbelievers of Jesus’ day—many of the scribes and Pharisees—who were not in the right heart condition to appreciate the “mysteries of the kingdom” and to order their lives in harmony with them.

To these the parables, or stories, told by Jesus meant little or nothing so far as kingdom truths were concerned, hence they were not made responsible for knowledge which they were not in heart condition to accept and obey. This is in keeping with the statement, “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”—Ps. 97:11

Another reason Jesus gave for speaking to “them” in parables was that it had been given to his disciples “to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” The fact that the disciples had responded to the teachings of Jesus and had become his followers was good evidence of their heart desire to know the truth of God and to be guided by it. In most instances Jesus explained the meaning of the parables as related to the mysteries of the kingdom.

“It is given unto you to know,” Jesus said to his disciples. This was based upon their uprightness of heart; but uprightness of heart alone does not guarantee that one can or will understand the mysteries of the kingdom. Saul of Tarsus was doubtless upright of heart, but not until the Lord opened the eyes of his understanding did he know the truth concerning Jesus, that he was indeed the Messiah of Promise.

When Peter, replying to Jesus’ question, “Whom say ye that I am?” answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:15-17) Here again we are reminded that the vital truths of the divine plan can be discerned only by the enabling power of God. For this reason a college professor has no advantage over one who may be far less educated. No wonder Jesus said to his disciples, “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”

The blessing of knowing the truth of the divine plan—the mysteries of the kingdom—is emphasized by Jesus in his statement, “Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Luke 10:24) Prior to the first advent of Jesus it was not the due time in the plan of God for the mysteries of the kingdom to be revealed, even to God’s faithful prophets.

Our memory verse contains valuable lessons. First there is the assurance that eventually all secret things shall be revealed, or made clear. This reminds us of the future time of the kingdom when the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Isa. 9:6) All will then be given the ability to know the truth concerning God and his will for them. For now, let us take heed how we hear; that is, hear with the desire to learn and do God’s will.


Why did Jesus speak in parables?

When will all mankind be given a full knowledge of the truth?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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