To Speak in Parables

“He spoke many things to them in parables” (Matthew 13:3).

The parable was one of the staple teaching tools the Lord Jesus used to convey spiritual truth in an understandable way. The word parable contains the idea of placing something alongside something else to make a comparison. In this way, Jesus would place a moral truth alongside a physical example that people could more easily grasp. By this common form of Jewish teaching, He used a common object or practice to elucidate an intangible truth or principle.

From His earliest teaching sessions, Christ used graphic analogies to instruct on divine truth. He likened believers to salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13–16), pointed to the example of the birds and flowers concerning life’s essentials (6:26–30), and said Christians must build on the rock-solid foundation of Scripture rather than the loose sand of human philosophy (7:24–27). These and other illustrations contain clear meanings. They resonate with listeners. And they served the purpose of setting the stage for Jesus’ use of full-fledged parables.

Parables and other symbolic and figurative communication methods, when correctly understood, are genuine friends of the student of God’s Word. They make abstract truths more concrete, interesting, easier to remember, and easier to apply to life. Those were always the goals our Lord envisioned as He related any parables, such as the series of kingdom parables.

Ask Yourself
What can we learn from Jesus’ teaching style to help us improve our own spiritual communication, whether in formal lessons and sermons or simply in the ordinary vehicles of conversation?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610


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