But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. (Mk 4:34)
. . . that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mt 13:35)
Why did Jesus speak in parables so regularly? Jesus used parables frequently as a means to illuminate weighty, divine truth. He also had other reasons to use parables to communicate in public.
- And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him. (Lk 11:53-54) The scribes and Pharisees were always looking to find fault with Jesus and to discredit Jesus in the eyes of all of the people. By using parables, Jesus could thwart the plans of His enemies.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Mt 5:6) Through the use of parables, Jesus could spiritually feed those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness. Those who had a good heart, who were truly seeking God, could find what they needed in His teachings.
- “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14) This story of the two roads (one narrow, one wide) caused people to think about where their lives were headed. Using parables motivated people to stop and think about such profound topics.
- Jesus’ parables brought pressure upon people to cause them to choose whether they wanted to be a sheep or a goat. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left . . .” (Mt 25:31-33, for full story see Mt 25:31-46)
- Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. (Ps 78:1-3) As we can see by this passage, by speaking in parables, Jesus fulfilled prophecy concerning Himself. (see also Mt 13:34-35)
Jesus always had very good reasons for His actions. He listened for and obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit, and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. He has set us an excellent example, hasn’t He?