Parables that separate hearers

We normally think of Jesus’s parables as teaching tools to help the hearers understand spiritual concepts. Yet, in Matthew 13 Jesus’s disciples ask why he speaks to the people in parables, and his answer is that he uses the figurative languages of parables so the people would not understand. Doesn’t that seem surprising? In some cases Jesus used parables to separate serious learners from casual listeners. See what he says in verses 13-15.

Matthew 13:13-15    

13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ NIV

The reason is that some of the people had already desensitized their minds to understanding spiritual truths. They had already closed their eyes and ears to God’s word. This terrible condition was something foretold by the prophet Isaiah. Most people did not want to understand. Even the disciples did not understand the parables until Jesus explained them. The difference was that the disciples stuck around to ask Jesus questions and Jesus taught them the meaning of the parables. The disciples demonstrated a desire to learn.

What about you and me? We have been blessed to live in a time when we have the completed Scriptures at our fingertips in our own language. Are our ears open and receptive?

It’s frightening to think that we could resist the truth of God’s word so stubbornly for so long that God could choose to make it hard for us to believe. Let us be eager to hear the truth of the Bible, to seek to understand it, and then apply it to our lives.

Did you previously understand that Jesus sometimes used parables to separate his hearers into two groups? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Johannes Krupinski on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Parables that separate hearers”

  1. Chuck, I honestly didn’t know He was trying to confuse the unbelievers. I always though the parables were to help simplify the word for the believers. It’s definitely an interesting concept and Im glad you were able to explain the real meaning behind the parables. Thank you Teacher!!

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