Why did Jesus use so many parables as He spoke to His disciples and the crowds? Were they simply a good means to get the attention of the listeners? Were they to help the people remember what He was saying so that they could discuss it among themselves? Were they for purposes of entertainment or clarity or connection? Were they a clever means of antagonizing His opponents or drawing attention to their differences? What do you think?
We know that the disciples asked Jesus the very same question – “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” (Matthew 13: 10) Jesus gave them a very thought-provoking answer. Basically He told them that He wanted to reveal truth to a limited number of people, to those who have “ears to hear and eyes to see”. Did this mean that Jesus had favorites or that some people were excluded from knowing what the Kingdom of God was like? Clearly that is not what Jesus was saying. However, He was telling them that those who refuse to listen with their hearts, those who reject His message, will not be able to understand the parables. The same thing was true when the prophet Isaiah was warning the leaders about the future of their nation and coming judgment. Jesus always left the door open for those who would turn from their unbelief and humble themselves. He always offered healing and blessing to those who would come to Him in faith.
The truth is that there is great rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents. How many parables do we need to hear before we understand how precious it is to our Savior when someone turns from ignoring or indifference or rejection to belief in Him? How many times and ways does He need to explain to us that His love reaches out to the most unlovely, the most unlikely, and the most undeserving and that what pleases Him greatly is when His love in us causes us and enables us to do the very same thing?