Then the disciples came and asked Jesus, 'Why do you speak to them in parables?' He answered, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given....The reason I speak to them in parables is that "seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.".....
For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn - and I would heal them.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and for your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.'
(New Revised Standard Version)
Jesus is asked by his disciples why he uses parables, and gives a not very easy to understand explanation. Today, we often say parables are 'earthly stories with a heavenly meaning', but actually there is a little more we can say about them.
By using parables Jesus can put two things side by side - usually a simple story with another meaning alongside it, that is intended to teach people. The original Greek word for 'parable', was wider than 'a story', it included wise sayings, cryptic comments and riddles. One of the big advantages of parables, is that the story often sticks in a person's mind and can be remembered and thought about later. Normally a parable has one main point, and sometimes not all the sections of the story fit this. A parable is also meant to be heard. Matthew's Gospel has more parables than the other gospels.
As Christians we know that God's message is only heard when people want to hear it; they can physically hear his message of love and maybe they have learnt about God from childhood, but unless they want to really believe it, they will ignore Him. As Jesus says: "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and for your ears, for they hear." All you can do is pray for those who do not believe.
You taught Your disciples
Help us to understand their
and to contemplate
their message for us today.