555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

295. What Was the Special Value and Object of Jesus' Parables?

"But unto others in parables that seeing they might not see and hearing they might not understand" Luke 8:10. Dean Farrar says on this passage: "Lord Bacon says, 'A parable has a double use; it tends to veil and it tends to illustrate a truth; in the latter case it seems designed to teach, in the former to conceal.' Our Lord wished the multitude to understand, but the result and profit depended solely on the degree of their faithfulness. The parables resembled the Pillar of Fire, which was to the Egyptians a Pillar of Cloud." The truth veiled in the form of parable was withheld from the people because their minds had grown too gross to receive it. "Had the parable of the mustard seed, for instance," says Dr. Whedon, "been explained to the Pharisees as indicating that the Gospel would yet fill the earth, it would only have excited their additional hostility and hastened their purpose of accusing him as intending to subvert the existing government." They themselves, as we learn from Matt. 13:15, had willfully closed their eyes to the Gospel, and so its real principles must be withheld from them. To some this may have been a mercy, preventing them from using the truth to evil purposes. To others it may have been simply the penalty due them for having insulted the truth and become unworthy of it. While, however, the parable veiled the truth from cavilers, it unveiled it to the disciples (Matt. 13:11). The unreceptive people, "seeing" the narrative, saw "not" the doctrine embodied; "hearing" the literal parable, they understood "not" the secret meaning. "The whole Gospel is a parable to him whose heart has not the key." This solemn teaching is found also in the law and the prophets. Deu. 29:3, 4; Is. 6-9; Jer. 5:21; Ezek. 12:2.