Jesus Teaches by way of Parables
An interesting part of the ministry of Jesus is that He taught by way of parables. The word parable has as its definition; to compare, and is most frequently a short story that demonstrates a moral attitude or religious principle. Jesus used these techniques in an effort to communicate the spiritual messages that the Father gave Him to deliver. These messages had to be delivered as parables as the people did not understand the spiritual realm. Therefore, His messages had to be delivered by comparison to things they did understand. These would be the physical things of their every day life:
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’“ (Matthew 13:10-14)
We have discussed this concept previously in our dissertation on who Jesus claimed to be. So, for example, Jesus said: “I am the Bread of Life that has come down from heaven.” The term Bread is used to describe a staple food source capable of supporting life. So, in this statement Jesus communicates that He is the spiritual food that leads to everlasting life. This means that if we take Jesus into our spirit and He becomes a part of us, that we will have achieved everlasting life. So, this statement is a parable because it uses the words “bread” and “life,” which are easy to understand, as an illustration to communicate the spiritual truth of who Jesus is.
Another interesting point is the frequency to which Jesus talked in parables. The disciples were constantly taking Jesus’ words literally (not spiritually) and misunderstanding His message. For example:
Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12)
The bottom line here is that Jesus was a teacher who communicated in an easy to understand manner. In addition, His words were supported by miracles that directly reinforced the truth of His message. For example, Jesus stated:
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
The miracle of the five loaves and two fish that fed thousands[i] reinforces His statement that He is the Bread of Life. And yet this miracle is a parable in itself as it demonstrates that we will have everlasting life in Jesus, who is the bread of God.
In seeking to be like our Savior, we also must communicate the things that God has given us to communicate. In addition, we should expect that these words will be supported with power from on high, the way that they were for Jesus.
[i] Matthew 14:17 – 21 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.