Day 1

Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?

from the reading plan

Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:33-34

I will open my mouth in parables;
I will declare things kept secret

from the foundation of the world.
—Matthew 13:35

The Prodigal Son. The Good Samaritan. The Pearl of Great Price. You’ve heard the stories, but do you know them in their original context? In this 3-week study of the Parables of Jesus, we will read through many of the well-known—and not so well-known—stories Jesus used to teach hearers, both then and now, about how to live as His followers. Each day we will read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. In lieu of reading a devotional response, we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”


Week 1: Parables about God’s Kingdom

Parables are stories with a point. They are designed to make us think about what is being said, why, where, to whom, and in what context. To get to the heart of Jesus’ parables, we need to pull them apart and take a careful look at the details He gives us. One detail that runs through this week’s selection of parables is that Jesus says they all describe the kingdom of God in some way. As you read through these passages, use the following questions to unpack the stories Jesus tells.



1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?

2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What is your response to this parable?

Post Comments (18)

18 thoughts on "Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?"

  1. Jeremy Donovan says:

    Q1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?

    A1: Jesus spoke in parables to make it easier for everybody to comprehend what he is saying. This does help me prepare to read through because it will be an illustration that I can easily relate to and apply to my life.

    Q2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?

    A2: The problem addressed in today’s parable is what happens to people who are not rooted in Christ. This illustration depicts what happens to 4 types of believers:

    A) 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

    B) 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

    C) 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

    D) 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

    Q3. What is the central point of this parable?

    A3: The central point of this parable is everybody who hears the word is not rooted in Christ. The ones who are rooted in Christ will fully understand his word and will receive the benefits of living out the word.

    Q4. What is your response to this parable?

    A4:This a great parable that helps understand how some people hear the word but don’t understand it. I pray that I will always be seed that is thrown in good soil.

  2. Tate Bredenkamp says:

    I believe I heard Christ spoke in parables as a way to differentiate between those who would hear his truth and those would would regardless reject it. Those meant to understood his parables did so and those unable to understand were also unable to accept truth, turn from sin, and embrace Christ as Messiah and Lord. While decidedly Calvinistic, I will say I understand Christ’s parables better now, at this appointed time, than I ever have before.

    In this particular parable I have found each of these locations represented in my own walk and therefore suggest Christ refers not to four different kinds of people, but four different situations or seasons of life. For it is not once but many times we hear the good news, and each time we may receive it differently. Most likely due to our surroundings. I have fallen prey to the cares and desires of the world. I have been ill-equipped to nurture the Gospel within my own life because I have not placed myself within the nourishing soil of Christ’s Church. I have been pulled apart by the enemy when I am most vulnerable and did not believe I had a fighting chance. And now, in the present age, I enjoy growing up in good soil. Receiving both refreshing shade and energizing sunlight. Among those who give me cool water to drink when I am thirsty and protect me from being trampled by a consumeristic, ‘use and discard’ culture. And I am grateful for this place O Lord. May the roots of your Words grow DEEP. And my my love for you grow STRONG.

  3. Darren VanMeekeren says:

    Q1 – I believe Jesus spoke in parables to help the disciples find for themselves the answers to what they’re searching for without clearly spelling it out for them. I also believe Jesus used them because during that time, He spoke of topics & ideas that were relevant and relatable. Knowing that this was the reasoning why Jesus used parables will better help with my searching to find the ultimate answer of life. In this case, I’m called to the sower in good soil.

    Q2 –

  4. Bryce says:

    1. I think Jesus spoke in parables to make people think about what He was saying. Rather than just going straight to the point, He gave an example so the listeners could listen and understand in their own words the message He was giving. This helps prepare me by slowing down while reading these parables, and trying to dig into what Jesus is saying.

    2. Todays situation is about sharing the Gospel with others, and gives examples of the different kinds of individuals that you will encounter while sharing it. Knowing the different types of individuals would help you to follow up with them about what you have shared, or what their walk with Christ is going to be like.

    3. The central point of this parable is for you to plant the seed to everyone you meet. Although you will not make an impact on everyone you share the Gospel with.

    4. My response to this parable is that I need to make a much better effort on sharing the Gospel and my faith with others so that I can plant that seed in others. The seeds that I can see are well rooted, are the seeds that I can continue to sow. Lord, help provide me with the courage and opportunity to plant Your seed in other, and help me work with them on growing.

  5. Nick Doerrig says:

    I want to seek Him and have that strong foundation among good soil. I need a strong group of believing friends to encourage me, but even without people always around me I long to yearn for God as a deer pants for water. Among good soil, I need to continue to be watered and nourished by the truth to maintain my foundation in the gospel of Jesus Christ, lest I be tossed around and uprooted by the most obvious temptation that this world has to offer. He is better and I want to be a plant that is fruitful for His kingdom.

  6. Sam Bartlett says:

    I believe Jesus spoke in parables to make his message accessible to everyone. If he spoke only using the language of the prophets, or scholarly wisdom, a large portion of the crowds he was speaking to (including us) perhaps wouldn’t be able to follow. However, by using visual metaphors about things we all understand (in this case, planting a seed) we can all realise on at least some level what Jesus was referring to.

    As the language is so understandable, perhaps the people who see but do not perceive are those who do not want to realise the message of Jesus. We can all understand it on some level, whether we choose to accept it or not is another matter.

    Life versus God is the problem of this particular parable. God’s word is being sown but the worries of life, complacency, and a lack of understanding choke it.

    I pray that I am fertile soil for God’s word, and might produce a crop for him.

  7. Adam says:

    Don’t let yourself grow into and amongst the thorns. Stay rooted in the good soil.

  8. Joey says:

    I was taught that Jesus spoke in parables to deferential the people who cared to know him on a deeper level because he knew they would not fully understand and they would ask him to further clarify. This was also essentially an exercise in dying to your own pre conceived notions of what you would have thought about God at the time.

  9. DeMario Smith says:

    “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭119:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    As I was reflecting on this passage the above scripture came to mind. In David’s situation he explained that the reason he hid the word in his heart is because it was the hope that was embedded in him to not step outside the power of the word. I feel that Jesus used parables because people even to this day relate more to stories. We are people of adventure and wonder and curiosity. We are always looking for the next adventure whether it be in books or movies. However when Jesus spoke in parables I believe that it helped the people gauge where they are spiritually. Could they decipher what he was saying without him telling them? A tactic I have used in the past is to read the parable and then pause and listen to the Holy Spirit and wait to see if the parable is revealed before continuing going into the section when Jesus breaks it down for the disciples.

    This particular parables points out the importance of having the word engraved in our hearts. The purpose of reading the word of God is not just to listen. If we just listen or just read without actually studying then we do ourselves a disservice because God’s word is there as a guide. Think of it like this…why do we use GPS? It’s to help us in those times when we are lost to redirect us and get us back to where we are going safely. It serves as a guide to check against. Same thing with the Word. It is there to fall back on in times of trouble and confusion. It helps us to not lean on our own understanding but his and his alone. We as believers can not go through this life without the Word of God.

    This parable describes different kinds of sowers. The sower who pours the seeds on the ground without no root (foundation) but yet still springs up but are scorched by the heat of the sun. The other sower is the one who sprinkles it upon thorns but grow up with the thorns and are then choked. However there is sower whose seeds fall upon good rich soil and as a result takes root and springs up to serve its purpose.

    The questions is…which one are you? What kind of soil do we have in our hearts that will allow God’s word to just enter into our ears but take root deep in our hearts?

  10. Ryan Schulze says:

    1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?
    There is a time and place to receive every lesson, but that can’t be forced or taken. Sometimes people teach us lessons or tell us stories and it’s not till weeks or months or years later that we come to realize what they were actually saying. Jesus spoke for all to hear, but not all had the ears to do so. Some weren’t ready to receive. I would like to think some in the crowd were, that Jesus’ parables weren’t just for the disciples, even if he makes it out to seem that way.

    In thinking about how to approach reading parables, this makes me think that you have to approach each parable, asking God to make the soil of your heart soft and good, able to receive what’s available to be received. I also think it helps me know there is a patience that has to be there as well. You may not walk away with something immediately, or ever for that matter, and that’s okay. The act of approaching humbly to hear will eventually bear fruit.

    2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?
    Shema-ing God’s words, the words of the kingdom. The many shades of how we can receive it – reject, forget, fade, or remember.

    3. What is the central point of this parable?
    I think there are a handful of points. First, God is the faithful sower and will continue to sow, even when we are unable, unwilling, or not ready to receive. Second, we must pray for hearts of flesh and not stone, hearts soft and ready to receive what God has to give us. Just because we show up, doesn’t mean we are ready. Third, we have to orient our life to be around opportunities to be fed. We should be seeking chances to hear the words of the kingdom.

    4. What is your response to this parable?
    A prayer. Father, as I go through this devotional, and as I go through my days, I pray I could be eager and receptive to hear what you have to say. I pray I would Shema, hear and respond to those words. I pray for an ear inclined toward what you are trying to tell me.

  11. Joseph Turner says:

    Where are you planting your seed?
    Take care of your seed.
    The harvest will be getting into the kingdom of God if you live right through him

  12. Dalton Murray says:

    1. Jesus spoke in parables to help convey his meaning of his words and what he meant. It prepares by giving us a foundation of that which we can better understand.

    2. What’s addressed is the word of God and how it can received. The outcome is you receive/live out Gods word based on how your heart is.

    3. Central point is the word is the seed and the soil conditions are the heart.

    4. Adhere to God’s word with an open and reflective heart.

  13. Jacob says:

    “1. Today’s reading gives us not only a parable, but Jesus’ own words about why He used them. How would you summarize why Jesus spoke in parables? How does that help prepare you to read through them?

    He spoke in parables for those that did not have the gift or given ability from the Spirit to understand. He used parables to illustrate principles of the Kingdom to everyday people.
    As I read the parables, I should look for the underlying point to them, seeking to apply the point to my life.

    2. What situation or problem is addressed in today’s particular parable, and what is the outcome of the story?

    The seeds and the soils, and the purpose of parables.

    3. What is the central point of this parable?

    Planting seeds may not yield fruit. But when they do, the fruit will multiply, causing more seeds.

    4. What is your response to this parable?

    “Jesus, help me to share your truths and your wisdom with others by using your parables. Help me to know how to make the Gospel relatable for others. Help me to love you more and make my heart to want to share more about you to the world. There is no greater gift than knowing you. I’ve fallen so short; I’ve become idle and complacent. Can you forgive me? Can you awaken me to your Word, and set a fire to my heart. I want to love you more. Amen.”

  14. Zac Eash says:

    The main idea of the parable of the sower is to show that it matters where we plant our seed. Some people hear God’s word and reject right away. Others start strong,but can’t sustain to reach the reward. Still others have what it takes individually but get beat out by their surroundings. It takes a lot to be a Christian.

    I need to be disciplined and diligent in my walk. These stories are examples of how to lead the type of life that glorifies God. I have to give my self an environment to succeed, but also do the work of the sower to cultivate a crop.

    When explaining why he uses parables, Jesus makes reference to Isiah’s promise that people will see but not perceive and hear but not understand. I feel like I often fall into this, or am barely scratching the surface. I often grasp the lesson of the parable, but really struggle to carry on and apply it in my own life.

    Planting my seed in a better environment is the first step to strengthening my relationship with God.

  15. Jimmy Lanier says:

    It seems Jesus uses parables to help all who have, haven’t or have heard multiple times understand the truth he is speaking. We all seem to hear God at times but when we dig deeper into his word, more truth seems to get revealed. It’s kind of like when you rewatch tv shows of movies. You always tend to catch something you missed. In these ways, Jesus uses parables for us to understand deeper.

  16. Allie Petta says:

    The word of Jesus is rooting your life
    If you seek the word your life will be fruitful.
    Grow in the word and don’t lose sight of welted roots.
    Make an effort to pray and grow in the community of faith.
    Jesus speak truth through parables to give a metaphor to give light to your understanding.

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  18. Tim Bowditch says:

    Matthew 13:34, Jesus quotes Isaiah again, saying
    “I will open my mouth in parables, I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

    Jesus did everything intentionally according to the prophets; he did not speak without a parable in this instance. Everything was taught through story and metaphor so that only those who were chosen to accept the Kingdom could understand, as we see in the phrase, “to him he who has ears, let him hear.”

    This can be difficult to wrestle with if we believe that salvation is something to be earned, but if we believe that it is entirely through grace that we are saved, it is such good news!

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