So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables. Mark 3, verse 23.
I go back and forth on this concept. I like to think I’m educated, experienced, and informed. I much prefer that people tell me the plain truth; don’t sugar-coat things; don’t dance around the point. If I were a man in Jesus’ time, how would I feel about Him telling me things in parables? I wouldn’t have been in Jesus’ inner circle; neither would you. That means we would most likely be counted in the crowd to whom He spoke in parables. When He spoke in parables (instead of plain language), Jesus spoke obliquely, using stories and figurative language to make a point. I’m not sure how much I’d appreciate that.
And that’s where I’d be dead wrong.
http://www.simplybible.com.au/f664.htm says “The parables were evocative not provocative. By couching his teaching in parables, Jesus made certain points much clearer to true-hearted people than even plain language could have made them. At the same time, he was speaking indirectly and figuratively so that lawyers had nothing to accuse him of. When it would have been counterproductive to speak plainly in public, Jesus spoke in parables —a prudent strategy.” Evocative: that’s a perspective I hadn’t considered before, but Jesus evoking images and lessons in people is much wiser than my self-centered response to thinking I hadn’t gotten the straight scoop from the Almighty.
Remember that, in today’s verse, Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people. In this crowd there are strangers, newcomers to His following, and curious onlookers. There are also members of His family who had just said He was loony, as well as Pharisees who are already looking for a way to take Jesus down a notch. Would Jesus have given them fire and brimstone, a confrontational and harsh repudiation of all they had done wrong? How effective would that be? I mean, couldn’t they get that from the Jewish leaders or their Roman overlords? That kind of teaching-led-astray is part of the reason Jesus came. And it would have played into their misunderstanding of who Jesus was.
At my church, the recently finished sermon series was entitled “That reminds me of a story that Jesus told.” Pastors Mark, Will and Anthony spent most of late 2014 going through parables and the messages they revealed. After listening closely, it became more and more evident that the parables of Jesus weren’t just oblique references or stories that beat around the bush. Instead, they were beautiful, poetic references designed to speak directly to people’s hearts while opening their minds. The parables were a way for people to relate; more people, in fact, that could relate to direct teaching of direct concepts. Think about that: we learn more when we can relate than we do from simple lecture. We learn when we can relate, when we noodle something instead of simply blindly accepting it.
In that light, I’d be wrong – self-centered and cocky, in fact – if I clung to my selfish outlook about why Jesus did or didn’t include me in his plain-truth ministry. He actually did, talking with me in a way I can understand. Jesus spoke in parables so that more people could understand Him than would by Him saying things they might not have wanted to hear. When we think about it that way, hearing His parables actually becomes a very beautiful gift.
Lord Jesus, thank You for speaking in parables, for giving me truth I need in a way I can handle.
Re-read Mark 3, verses 20-34.