• TeMah LoraLee

Are Jesus' Parables Intentionally Vague? (Y1.T1.D51)

Updated: Apr 25


Pexels; "Samson Katt"

 

In the first draft of this post, I answered the title question with the following response:


Jesus didn't cater to the uninterested. So while it might seem like Jesus' intended to be vague by speaking in parables, he actually wasn't. He did predict there would be those who wouldn't understand based on what he knew of human behavior.


I then used the verses of Psalm 78 about how God said he would "open [his] mouth in a parable" (v 2). This information "which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us." (v 3). The previous generation promised they would “not hide [it] from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of Yahweh, his strength, and his wondrous deeds that he has done" (v4).


Psalm 78:6–8, continues:


that the generation to come might know, even the children who should be born;

who should arise and tell their children,

that they might set their hope in God,

and not forget God’s deeds,

but keep his commandments,

and might not be as their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation that didn’t make their hearts loyal,

whose spirit was not steadfast with God.


I felt my argument was solid until I came across a wonderful post on redeeminggod.com where author Jeremy Myers humbly contradicts me by writing:


. . . let me admit it publicly, “I don’t think I understand Jesus’ parables.”


And you know what? I think that is EXACTLY what Jesus wants. . . if you are confused by what Jesus says in His parables, you are on the right track. If you are confident you understand all of Jesus’ parables, you probably need to have your pride meter checked. Jesus told parables so that people would not understand what He was saying, and He had very specific reasons for doing this.


Ouch, Mr. Myers—those are my toes you are stepping on. And rightly so.


While I stand by the comment that “Jesus didn’t cater to the uninterested,” I happily admit I also struggle with his unexplained parables.


So why would a kind and loving teacher intentionally confuse his students? I yield to Mr. Myers conclusions in the matter:


Scripture and parables are confusing because God doesn’t want us to get life from a book. The Jewish religious leaders were trying to get their life from a book, and Jesus scolded them for it (John 5:39-40), and so also today, many people seem to think that life comes from studying, learning, and following the Bible. But it doesn’t.


Life comes from God alone. Life comes through Jesus Christ. He IS life.


And so when God inspired the Bible to be written in confusing ways, and when Jesus told parables that were confusing, their goal was not just to confuse people, but to get people to come to the source of life for an explanation. God didn’t inspire the Bible to be written just so we could have a book about God. Neither did Jesus tell parables just so we could have some profound spiritual truths. No, the Bible is a tool to lead us into a relationship with God and the parables are a tool to lead us into a relationship with Jesus.


Who could argue with that? Certainly not me. Even as I read today's verses, I do it with a desire to know God better.

Show Me the Way


24 He set another parable before them, saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds also among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the blade sprang up and produced grain, then the darnel weeds appeared also. 27 The servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did these darnel weeds come from?’


28 “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’


“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them up?’


29 “But he said, ‘No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel weeds, you root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First, gather up the darnel weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24–30)


36 Then Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house. His disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel weeds of the field.”


37 He answered them, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 the field is the world, the good seeds are the children of the Kingdom, and the darnel weeds are the children of the evil one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 As therefore the darnel weeds are gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and those who do iniquity, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:36–43)


Matthew 13:31–32, Mark 4:30–32; Luke 13:18–19

Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:20–21


33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. (Mark 4:33)


Matthew 13:34, Mark 4:34


35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying,


“I will open my mouth in parables;

I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 13:35)


1 Hear my teaching, my people.

Turn 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.

4 We will not hide them from their children,

telling to the generation to come the praises of Yahweh,

his strength, and his wondrous deeds that he has done.

5 For he established a covenant in Jacob,

and appointed a teaching in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers,

that they should make them known to their children;

6 that the generation to come might know, even the children who should be born;

who should arise and tell their children,

7 that they might set their hope in God,

and not forget God’s deeds,

but keep his commandments,

8 and might not be as their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation that didn’t make their hearts loyal,

whose spirit was not steadfast with God. (Psalm 78:1–8)

Meditation Moment


Dear God,


I accept that I am incapable of knowing everything there is to know about You—that's what makes You God. It's humbling to know You promised to reveal Yourself if I sought you with all of my heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Please provide me the same private moments You experienced with the first-century disciples (Mark 4:34). I'm grateful for the times I can serve you by caring for the least of these my brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:40). I want to do this and more.


Amen.


Meditation Music Link

 

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