Do you understand Jesus and the parables? Do you know why Jesus spoke to the people in parables? In this section we see the reason why he did so and also how we can learn to understand the parables of Jesus.
The section begins with Jesus leaving the people and going into a house with his disciples. In relation to Jesus and the parables we see that he said nothing to the rest of the people without a parable. This was to fulfil the words of one of the old prophets who said, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:35, Psalm 78:1-4) So the point of Jesus and the parables is to bring forth knowledge and insight about the kingdom of God. But he does this in parables so that it can be given to those who seek it out, but will remain veiled to those who do not. For them they are just interesting anecdotes, but to the people of God they give powerful insights.
We see that the disciples also questioned this matter and sought understanding. They came to him privately as they often did and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Verse 36) Now I will not go into that explanation as I did that several posts earlier, but what we need to see here is the process of what is happening. Back in verse 11 Jesus said to the disciples, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” They were following him and looking for the truth and Jesus gave it to them willingly and gladly. All they needed to do was ask. And because they asked he explained all of the parables, privately and away from the rest of the people.
The teachings of Jesus are not teachings of this world, but are teachings of the spirit. In order to understand the things of the spirit we need a spiritual interpreter to show us these matters. With Jesus and the parables, the disciples had such a spiritual person, for Jesus is the Son of God. But what about the rest of his people? Jesus promised to send a Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, after he had been put to death. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to be our teacher and guide so that we could understand the mysteries of the New Covenant including the teachings of Jesus and the parables. Jesus said, “…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14) So again we see that the mysteries of the New Covenant remain veiled to those who are not of Christ, for they do not receive the Holy Spirit so they can learn and understand. But for those who come to him, who ask for the Holy Spirit and who seek to know the truth of his word, he reveals it.
As a result we see in the final words of this section, which relates as much to Jesus and the parables in general as it does to this particular explanation, that, “The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” And he ends the section with an urgent command to his people saying, “He who has ears, let him hear.” That is, listen to what Jesus says and learn the lessons of the kingdom of God.