Lesson 147—March 4, 2018
“Parables-An Enlightenment or an Irritation?”
Lesson Goal: To grow in our understanding of Jesus choosing to teach in parables and why He chose this particular manner.
Introduction: Until this point in Jesus’ ministry He had used parables rarely in His teaching. When He had used them they were very brief in nature. Todays Scripture passages represent a change in Jesus’ teaching. This change is brought about primarily because of the overall rejection of Israel to His Messiah-ship and message of true salvation.
We must remember that for many years the Jews had made assumptions concerning the coming of the Messiah. They had pictured in their minds the appearance, type, and kind of Messiah that He would be when He came. Even Jesus’ own disciples on occasion had difficulty understanding and comprehending what was happening. They had many questions. Some of their questions were: why didn’t the religious leaders get it, why was there so much difficulty and opposition, and why not immediately deal with Rome and ascend to the throne? Because of questions such as these, the Jews failure to recognize or understand the Kingdom, and their outright rejection of Him, Jesus “taught them using parables.”
Questions: What is a parable?
Why did Jesus use parables in His teachings?
Have you ever heard someone teaching by using a parable to convey or illustrate a truth?
Can you remember any of Jesus’ parables recorded in Scripture? Please reference them.
Personal example: Over twenty-five years ago I enjoyed coaching and teaching baseball. I enjoyed working and being around the children and for the most part I enjoyed their parents (with only a few exceptions).
While coaching these young children and helping their parents to understand my coaching philosophy, I shared I have basically two rules. These two rules I shared were not complicated or difficult. I further explained all that we will do on the baseball field will be based upon these two things. The two rules were 1). Hustle-we
will hustle in practice and we will hustle in games, in fact, we will make it our goal that no other team will out hustle us, 2). Listen to me-there are many voices that you will hear, grandparents, moms, brothers, sisters, and (some want to be all American, former ball playing dads) but while on the field, at practice, or in a game there is only one voice you are to listen to-the voice of the coach. I can say now reflecting on those days that simple non-complicated philosophy seem to have worked. My time of coaching quickly came and went and I am so grateful for those moments and now great memories of a bygone time. I do believe if you were to ask some of those children, now adults with children of their own, what Coach Mickey’s rules were they would still remember just two rules-Hustle and Listen.
In Mark 4:3 before Jesus speaks, teaching them in parables, He gives an instruction in one word and that word is “Listen.” This word Listen is a word of instruction and invitation. It instructs those hearing to give focus and attention (“LISTEN”) while inviting them to learn a great truth. It is Jesus’ way of saying “give me your attention and focus, stop all other conversations and pay attention.” Jesus in Matthew 13:8 presents this same idea, “therefore hear the parable of the sower.”
Listening seems like an easy instruction to follow but there are some things that keep us from listening. What are some of these things?
Before someone challenges this thought by posing the question, what about someone that is hearing impaired or how can they listen if they cannot hear? May I just offer for your consideration that it is often the hearing impaired that are the best “listeners” for quite often they have a greater focus and attention than someone who possess the ability to hear. For the hearing impaired have an understanding for the need to focus so they can lip read and a greater focus when interpreting sign language.
Please explain the literal difference between “hear” and “listen” or “hearing” and “listening.”
Questions: Is it possible to hear without listening?
Is it possible to listen without being able to physically hear?
What does Jesus mean in Mark 4:9 when “He said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’!”
Now back to the first question presented in this lesson. What is a parable?
“A parable is a practical story, often framed as a simile (a comparison using “like” or “as”), that illustrates spiritual truth. There are all kinds of parables in the Gospels, and some of them are famous, such as the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, and the Lost Sheep. These stories draw a comparison in order to illustrate a spiritual truth.” Platt
“A parable has been called an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The word rendered
“parable” (“parabole”) comes from the verb (“paraballo”) which means ‘to cast alongside.’ So the use of parables was a form of teaching by which an earthly story was cast alongside a spiritual truth in order to give understanding to the latter. It should be noted that a parable teaches one primary truth. While many secondary meanings may be involved, they all contribute to the central truth.” Hobbs
“A parable is a literary device and is used to teach by means of transference, In order to make it possible to discover truth in an unknown realm, something familiar is transferred from the known realm to the unknown realm. A simple figure of speech in the form of a metaphor may be used ‘I am the gate.’ The figure may be a simile such as ‘Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves’. Pentecost
As with any Scripture passage, as a Bible student, we must look at the context of the parable within the pas- sage. We must also give understanding to the objects being used to convey a truth. For example as Pentecost continues, “For instance, before one can learn any truth about Christ from His statement ‘I am the gate’ (John 10:9, one must understand the nature, function, and purpose of a gate. What a gate provides in the real realm is what Christ will provide in the spiritual realm. Facts from the known realm must be learned before they can be transferred to gain knowledge in the unknown realm.”
Please explain with your own words, what is a parable?
A final and important truth that we must review before we study these parables in detail is found Matthew 13:10-17. In verses 11-17 Jesus responds to the disciples question of verse 10. The question offered by the disciples, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” In verses 11-17 Jesus expresses His purpose. By teaching in parables the truth will be revealed and received to those of the faith while those that reject Him the same truth will be concealed (v11).
Matthew Henry in very simple and practical terms compares the parables to the pillar of cloud and fire which enlightened Israel while confusing the Egyptians. The parables would be revealed to those who in faith were sincerely interested but would prove “only an irritation to those who were hostile to Jesus”. Henry