Mark 12:1a Then He began to speak to them in parables
Jesus often taught using parables. Why parables? Was it to confuse or was it to force a response? Some commentators on the Bible suggest that Jesus taught using parables in order to confuse the listener. After all, when the disciples asked Him why He taught using parables, didn’t Jesus tell them:
Matthew 13:11 (NKJV) He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
Sounds like Jesus was teaching in parables because there were some people that He didn’t want to understand. But that doesn’t balance well with the rest of scripture or with Jesus own actions. In fact, if we simply continue reading Matthew13, we realize that assumption is incorrect.
Matthew 13:12-15 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
Parables are interesting in that you can hear one from beginning to end, but if you don’t want to understand it you don’t have to. If you want to understand it, the meaning can be quite clear. The scripture says, “Seeing, they do not see. Hearing, they do not hear.” This is willful. They refuse to see what is in front of them because either they don’t want to get it or they are focused on something they consider better or more worthwhile. So, I believe Jesus taught using parables in order to force a response. Think about this … most children can understand a parable … at least the basic truth contained within. Why is that? They take it at face value … they accept the parables for what they mean without weighing them against their opinions. That tells me that most adults also understand parables, it’s just a matter of choosing to believe the simple truth that is contained within. The meaning of any particular parable Jesus taught is as plane as Jesus standing before His disciples bearing the wounds of His crucifixion.
John 20:27 (NKJV) Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
The evidence of His resurrection was overwhelming, but the disciples still had to choose to believe. Now, certainly, many of the parables have some very deep truths and many have prophetic implications, but the most important truth is always in plain sight, forcing the hearer to respond.
Turn to Mark 12 or click this link and read the first 12 verses. The simple truth in this parable … the plain truth is that God is reaching out to those who have rebelled against Him. The vineyard here in this parable is a picture of Israel. The landowner who planted the vineyard is God. The beloved Son whom the vinedressers killed was Jesus.
After hearing the parable:
Mark 12:12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.
The gospel of Matthew says the religious leaders perceived the parable was about them but they were wrong because the parable was FOR them. Jesus was reaching out to them. There were not some people Jesus didn’t want to accept Him and then others that He did. For God so loved the world is an absolute and Peter wrote that God isn’t being slack but is waiting so that everyone has the opportunity to either accept salvation or reject it. And so maybe you perceive that God is speaking to you now as you read this devotion. And you have the same choice as those who heard this parable. Receive the Son or reject the Son. They walked away. Perhaps they thought that Jesus was good for some, but not for them. He is somebody’s truth … just not their truth. And yet deep down they knew that Jesus is the Truth, just like you know that Jesus is the truth. What will you do? Will you walk away or will you seize onto Jesus?