Why Parables

Message Summary
Jesus told parables to illustrate the meaning of life as it was to be lived in The Kingdom of God. Remember, The Kingdom of God is were God rules. So no matter where you are, if you allow God and His Word to rule in your heart, you will be walking in God's Kingdom. This message looks at one of the very powerful parables of Jesus and its meaning for our lives today. In between the telling of the parable and the explanation of the parable, Jesus gave an explanation as to why He taught in parables. The reasons are powerful and meaningful. Parables are truth bearing stories. It is easier to remember stories and if a truth is attached to the story that truth will be easier to understand as well. However, for a person to understand a parable, they must be willing to seek and receive the truth contained therein. We must remember, God offers His truth, but not everyone is willing to receive it. The end of this message deals briefly with the meaning of the parable of the sower and its important applications to our lives today.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Can you remember a "truth bearing story" that helped you understand an important principle of life? Explain.

2. Jesus' words about some people being given the truth of a parable and others not, seemed harsh. Explain how the following statement explains this difficult passage: Not given does not mean not offered!
Matthew 13:11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

3. In the parable of the sower, Jesus gives three examples of folks who heard Jesus' parable, but the truth didn't take root. From Jesus' words, and from the message notes, state the reasons truth didn't take root in three out of four who heard.
Matt. 13:18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

4. Those who chose to receive the truth Jesus offered were given the ability to fully understand and the truth took root. Something beautiful happens when the truth is planted in our hearts an allowed to take root. Explain what that is.
Matthew 13:23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

 

 

Full Sermon Notes

Why Parables
Father God, how majestic is Your Name! How glorious! You are Lord, You are Friend, You are Almighty, You are Comforter, You are All knowing, You are Teacher, You are All powerful, You are Protector, You are The Just Judge, You are Savior, You are Creator, You are Provider, Lord You have many amazing and wonderful names in Holy Scripture, but when I think of the name that best describes all that you are, I think of The Sweet Name of Jesus! For in Jesus we find all the fullness of the God. In Jesus we see The Father! Today, Lord Jesus, I ask that You forgive me where I've failed you and I ask that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so people will see You and hear from You. Hide me behind the Cross of Christ so people will know we've gathered here to worship You and learn from You. Teach us the truth of Your never ending principles today as we begin our study of Your parables! In the beautiful and powerful name of Jesus I pray, amen!

What is a parable?

Parable - A truth bearing story!

Parable - to put alongside for the purpose of comparison so as to understand. Holman Bible Dictionary

Parable - "A provocative illustration that argues or clarifies a point in the briefest imaginable way!" Broadman

Jesus told parables to illustrate the meaning of life as it was to be lived in The Kingdom of God. Remember, The Kingdom of God is were God rules. So no matter where you are, if you allow God and His Word to rule in your heart, you will be walking in God's Kingdom. Today we'll look at one of those very powerful parables of Jesus and its meaning for our lives today. But we'll also answer the question of why Jesus spoke in parables. So let's begin by opening God's word in The Gospel of Matthew 13.
We'll read the parable, and then the verses that tackle the question of why parables. Then we will end our message with the meaning of this particular parable.

The Parable

Matthew 13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.

Now, if you're a teacher and you're in a boat surrounded by water and you are looking for an illustration, what do you think would be your first choice of illustrations? Maybe a boating story? Maybe a fishing story? But not Jesus, listen...

3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.

Such irony! Jesus is at the beach, and He begins to tell a parable about a farmer in his field. Maybe Jesus used a topic so far removed from their present surroundings in order to get the people to use their mind's imagination to the fullest. Anyway, He continues the parable about the farmer…

4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Question

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

The explanation of Jesus as to why He spoke in parables has often served as a troubling matter for many. Why is this? I believe it is because they have not fully understood, or sought to understand what Jesus was saying. Sometimes, when people hear something, they hear what they want to hear, not what the person actually said. Let's look at verses 10 and 11 again...

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

Why were the secrets given to some and not to others. Where some chosen to be loved by God and others chosen not to be loved by God? No, I think the Bible is pretty clear that "God so loved the World," and "It's not God's will that anyone should perish!" But Pastor Larry it plainly says, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." You're exactly right. But hears the key to the seeming contradiction...

"Not given"
does not mean
"Not offered!"

God described it this way back in the Old Testament when He spoke these words to Isaiah...

Isaiah 65:1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations —

We would like to blame God for the woes of humankind, but we can't. He has called out to us and offered to us His salvation, His wisdom, His guidance, but so many have rejected His offer.
Listen to what Jesus says next in our text...

Matt. 13:12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

What does this mean? Those who are willing to receive will not just receive a one time gift of forgiveness and salvation, they will continue to receive good from the Hand of God! Those who reject His offer miss out on all that God would give them. They fall deeper and deeper into the world's delusion and will eventually even lose the worldly things they thought would make them happy. But this begs the question. Why parables?
When you hear a parable, you have to look for the meaning. You have to search for the hidden treasure. However, the parables of Jesus were not so difficult. In fact, if you put forth even a little bit of effort, God would help you to understand. You see, God will not force His love or His ways on us. But if there is any desire on our part to know and understand Him, God has made a promise...

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

So why parables? It is another way God gives us a choice in our relationship with Him. Those who have a heart to know God will find Him, but those who are so caught up in the world of self, self-seeking, self-serving, self-promoting, even self-worship, listen to Jesus' words in our text...

Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

Jesus is very plain here, if they would see, if they would hear, if they would understand with their hearts, and turn away from their wickedness, He would heal them!!
But here's the tragedy...

One can hear and not receive
as
One can see and not perceive!

What causes this malady? Callousness and stubbornness! It's when the spiritual heart gets hard towards the things of God. It's when a person acts like a little kid and sticks their fingers in their ears, and then close their eyes. It is an act of rebellion against a good God who only wants good for us. But so many times we just can't see that and we won't listen when someone tries to explain to us just how much God cares. Here's an amazing truth...

It was God's responsibility to give us ears to hear! The responsibility to use those ears to hear God is on us!

So if you are responsible enough to cast away foolish pride and listen, wow, the blessings that come. Jesus put it this way to His followers...

Matt. 13:16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Jesus reminds them of the Old Testament prophets who had visions and dreams of the Messiah who would one day come to be the Savior of not only the Jewish people who would believe, but anyone who would believe and receive. Jesus reminds them of the honored position and great privilege they had to actually hear the promised Messiah teach the amazing truths He was teaching. To hear the Word's of God spoken by The Son of God who was, according to John's gospel, The Word become flesh. God Himself in the flesh!

Jesus then grants them another very special privilege. He explains and reveals the exact meaning of the parable of the sower. It had application back then and boy does it have application today.

The Parable Explained
Part 1

Matt. 13:18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Remember I mentioned hard hearts? Seeds that fall on the hard ground of the path, can't take root, so the birds come and snatch those seeds away. When a person's heart is hard and calloused, it becomes difficult for the seed to take root. A good hard path doesn't develop overnight. Neither does a hard heart. It is a condition that develops over time. The more a person rejects the calling and wooing of The Holy Spirit, the harder their heart becomes, so Satan quickly seeks to steal away the truth that has been spoken to your heart. This was the condition of many religious leaders in Jesus' day.
You might be fearful that your heart is too hard to even receive God. I'm here to tell you, if there is any desire in you at all to know God, to begin a new life, to become a follower of Christ, then your heart's not too hard. There's still time for you to begin a wonderful relationship with God! But there is a point that a person's heart becomes so calloused and hard towards God, the seed of truth just can't take root.

The Parable Explained
Part 2

Luke 13:20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

When seed falls on rocky soil, it has trouble taking root, because the soil is shallow. It can't support the roots! It may be the first seed to sprout up, but it doesn't last.

These are the people who follow as long as there are benefits and perks. They follow as long as it's the "in thing," they follow because the crowd follows. But their true hearts are revealed when the crowd walks away, even a little persecution comes, or something with more perks comes up.

These are the people who shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest," and then a few days later shouted "Crucify Him!"

The Parable Explained
Part 3

22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

These folks genuinely like Jesus! They know His teachings are truth and they know they need to accept them and follow them, so the give a head nod! In other words, they accept the Word's of Jesus with their head, but not their heart.

Why not with their heart? Their heart belongs to someone else. Money, fame, climbing the cooperate ladder, addictions, stuff, popularity and the list is endless! As a result, when they are faced with the choice of following Jesus or the world, they go where their heart is.

Wicked spiritual weeds choke out the flowers of God's truth and where God's Word is not allowed to bloom there can be no fruit.

But there is good news in this parable...

The Parable Explained
Part 4

23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Why does this one understand?
The soil of his or her heart is good. This person has a heart that seeks God. A heart that desires truth more than it desires pleasure. A heart that understands the deepest and most pure pleasure in life can only be found in a deepening and growing relationship with The almighty Creator God!! This person will bear amazing fruit for God, not because they are perfect or better than the other people, but because their heart pants, and longs for God, His Word, and His ways!! Jesus offered the truth of His parables to all, but not all were willing to receive that truth deep into their hearts.

The Psalmist sums it up beautifully at the end of Psalm 119. It's the kind of prayer indicative of a good spiritual soil in which God's truth can really take root, listen closely...

169 May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Let's pray!!