Jesus told parables. Was He hiding something?

Jesus told parables. Lots of them. But what exactly is a parable? What’s the point of them? Are parables to tell us something? Or are they to hide something from us? Either way, how much do we really understand of the parables Jesus told us? That’s a lot of questions! Let’s get some answers.

Jesus told parables, but what is a parable?

Jesus told parables.  Was He hiding something?

I guess it’s important to look at what a parable really is before we dive right in and look at them.  While it kind of odd to put in the technical definition right away – here’s one that’s actually useful:

In the NT the actual word ‘parable’ is used with the same broad variety of meaning as Heb. māšāl to refer to almost any kind of non-literal utterance.  [1]

I think the key to this definition is to remember that it’s a “non-literal utterence”.
In even more plain words, it’s something said that was not, is not, and was never meant to – be taken literally.

However, having said not to take it literally, it often possible to exactly that. Jesus had a habit of taking things that everyone knew about and then using them to explain something else. For instance, one time while speaking to a large crowd from a boat, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed.

Obviously, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a mustard seed. And yet, Jesus used the comparison. It was a comparison that people understood at the time. But now, two thousand years later, in a different part of the world, in a different culture. we often miss the point. Instead of just going with the comparison, we argue about the size of the seed, the size of the plant growing from that seed, and whether or not anyone would even plant a mustard seed in a garden.

Back then, it was done, the facts given were valid, and the comparison fit. But unless we’re willing to learn something about the times, the culture, even what kind of mustard plants existed in that part of the world back then, we miss the point Jesus was making. Why? Because we’re too busy picking on things that have changed over time, with the culture, and the part of the world we live in.

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