The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
I’m not a big fan of modern art. A few squiggly lines on an empty canvas doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. Nor do I appreciate a nonsensical sculpture that’s meant to evoke some abstract feeling. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough, but I prefer art that I can understand and that looks beautiful. Jesus told parables to communicate difficult and sometimes controversial theological truths. His stories are easy to follow, with simple plots and familiar characters, but the spiritual truth behind them may seem obscure or hidden. In that way, Jesus’ parables share a bit in common with abstract art.
But Jesus didn’t tell parables to confuse people. He wasn’t trying to be cute or deceptive or mysterious. In fact, just the opposition. Jesus told stories so people could understand spiritual realities that would otherwise be hard to put into words. Sometimes, our hearts can grasp what our minds can’t comprehend. But you do have work at it. You do have to listen to the story and empathize with the characters and imagine what it would be like to experience what happens to them. Jesus didn’t tell parables to keep the “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” hidden, but to reveal those wonderful, life-giving secrets to those who, by faith, can hear and understand.
In the same way, we don’t study the Bible so that after years of academic discipline we might achieve a complete, scientifically-precise knowledge of God. No, we read the Bible to hear God’s voice speaking into our hearts. As the Psalmist put it, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls” (Psalm 42:7). Scripture, especially Jesus’ parables, reaches into our souls and draws us closer to God’s unfathomable glory and grace.
Father, I will never reach the end of Your majesty and perfect love. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me through Your word and through Jesus my Savior. Help me to seek after You with all my heart and to rejoice in the beauty of Your word. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian