bJesus’ parables often had a surprise or an unexpected twist and would catch the hearer off guard. The parable would move from the very familiar and understandable the mystical chris aspects of an experience to a sudden turn of events or a remarkable comparison that would challenge the hearer and invite him further reflection. This required reflection or meditation is what separates the truth-seekers from the curiosity-seekers!
Our understanding of the truths of these parables will have a great impact on our spiritual lives. Parables contrast the inadequacy of man-made religion versus the sufficiency of a personal relationship by faith in Jesus. As we study the parables it is as if God is holding up a mirror showing us our warts. The study of the parables will have a dividing effect on us. It divides those who believe from those who don’t. Jesus says that His Word is sharper than a two edged sword and divides bone from marrow.
The truth divides. Our hearts will either be softened or hardened by the teaching of the parables of Jesus. It has been proven in nature that the same sun, which melts ice, will also harden clay. What awakens one will harden another. Our hearts will either be softened or hardened by studying the parables of Jesus. Parables strengthen the faithful while blinding the faithless. They encourage believers and discourage unbelievers. Believers will see more clearly while unbelievers will become blinder. Jesus is the only one who can give sight to the blind. Jesus as the Savior and Lord who is the only one that can change people, regenerate them, give them eternal life (See appendix A – Roman Road).
When the Disciples asked why He spoke in parables. Jesus quoted from Isaiah. In Isaiah’s famous vision in the temple (Is. 6: 8-13), God says the people will hear but not understand His truth because they did not want to listen. Because of this He would allow their hearts to be hardened, their eyes blinded and their ears stopped. Yet it was Jesus’ desire that all hear and believe. Jesus’ common expression, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear, ” is a plea for us to understand. This also demonstrates the new Testament teaching that the Holy Spirit is required (does the interpreting) for the believer to understand. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “not everyone would understand. ” This illustrates the fulfill Isaiah’s prophesy that hearts, eyes and ears are closed. It was the judgment of God upon the hardened hearts of Israel. Their dull and rebellious hearts would make them blind and would end in judgement. Because of these harden hearts Jesus was using parables to perk their interest and awaken their spiritual senses. The parables both revealed and concealed. Those who were spiritually hunger would understand. Those who were not hungry would not be fed. It was not that His word hardened their hearts, their hearts would be hardened to his word.
Jesus’ ministry was always in conflict with the views of the Pharisees and scribes. Jesus used parables to catch his hearers off guard and to teach them about their sin in a way that would not make them defensive. His parables often involved an element of surprise or an unexpected twist. The parable moves from the very familiar to something that challenges us to invite further reflection. They catch us of guard and teach us about our sins in a way that breaks through our defenses.
This same technique was used by Nathan to convict King David of his sin. Nathan told the unsuspecting David the seemingly harmless parable of a rich man and a poor man living in the same city (2 Sam. 12: 14). The poor man owned only a single little ewe lamb, which he loved as a household pet. The rich man owned large flocks; yet when the wealthy farmer had a guest to serve, he took, killed, and prepared the poor man’s single lamb for the dinner!
Nathan sought to get inside David’s guard and cut the iron bonds of his self-deception and to strike the moral blindness from his eyes. It was a welllaid trap and David responded with moral outrage, thus condemning himself. Nathan then applied the parable to the king’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12: 514). This parable took David by surprise. But with only a few minutes of meditation and with the help of Nathan, he able to realize that “He was the man. “.