The Sunday School definition of a parable is often an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This is true enough, but the mistake we often make in understanding parables is that Jesus told them in order to make difficult theological concepts simpler for broader audiences.
Like so many of our words, the word 'parable' is actually a Greek word that has descended down through the ages into English. You're likely familiar with the word hyperbole, which is a purposeful exaggeration (Example: I'm so hungry I could eat a horse). You also are familiar with the prefix para, which means alongside. A paramedic works alongside doctors, a paralegal alongside a lawyer, etc.
The root word is bole, which means to throw. So here's what we have:
hyper·bole = To throw over the top para·bole = To throw alongside
So parables are stories Jesus told that were alongside of the truth. If you're wondering why Jesus told so many 'alongside the truth' stories, you're in good company: the disciples wondered the very same thing in v10.
Jesus' response is stunning. He told the parables not to make things simpler, but to obfuscate! Here's His response:
"the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven
has been given to you,
but not to them...
This is why I speak to them in parables... (v11-13a)"
Jesus quotes from Isaiah to bolster his point:
"Otherwise they might
see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and I would heal them. (v15b)"
As shocking as Jesus' statements are in this chapter, it's what He says in v16-17 that you need to focus on today:
"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see
what you see
but did not see it,
and to hear
what you hear
but did not hear it. (v16-17)"
As you read through the many parables in today's chapter, do you see the truth that these stories come alongside of? Do you understand the meaning Jesus is conveying? If you do, rejoice that knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, and realize the value of these words that the Holy Spirit has planted in your heart so that you would see Christ with your eyes, hear with your ears, understand with your heart and turn so that He heals you.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—In His explanation of the parable of the sower and the soils, what did Jesus say the thorns stood for? (See verse 22.)
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God of the Harvest remains in control, even though His fields seem full of weeds.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: He who has ears, let them hear & apply God's Word.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: