WHY SPEAK IN PARABLES, LORD?
After reading my last essay, the one on Words, a long time good friend of mine, Paul Oler, sent me a very valid question which I feel requires much thought and consideration. I said in the essay that Jesus spoke in parables so the disciples would know what He had in mind when He used certain words. However, Paul pointed out that when the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He said it was in part so some would NOT understand. This is true, of course, and the reason for it speaks to a very important concept concerning our relationship with God.
Before the beginning of anything, including time and space, there was only the Spirit which was God. John tells us that that Spirit is love. Love has two characteristics: It needs an object, and it needs to be returned by that object. So, to the part of His Spirit that He had given another personality and called it His Son, He said, “Let us make man”. Further study will tell us that God made man to be the object of His love. However, for man to fulfill the needs of love, he had to be able to love God in return. In order to do this, he had to be able to make a choice, for love is meaningless if the lover does not choose to love the object. So man was given the choice of loving God or loving himself and the things that pleased him. That choice had to be preserved at all costs in order for man to fulfill the very purpose for which he was created. God could have overwhelmed man with His power and His glory so that man would have to love Him. But in order for man to really love God, he had to want the things that God is. Those things are goodness, mercy, peace, righteousness, etc. Those who do not love and want these things can never love God, for they are the very personality of God Himself.
It is for this reason that Jesus said that He spoke in parables so that those who wanted the righteous characteristics of God would understand them but those who did not want such would find the teaching of Jesus not something that they wanted to follow. So the parables that made His teaching quite clear would make those who wanted to belong to God see the beauty of His way of life, but it would repel those whose selfish desires were only to please themselves.
It is also obvious that the parables were stories told to illustrate the point Jesus was making. Therefore, the words of the story could always be twisted to say something other than what Jesus was trying to illustrate. This gave the one who did not want to believe plenty of room to make the parable say what he wanted to hear. That is why Jesus said that it was given to the disciples to know (they wanted to), but to the others it was not given (because they did not want to). In the end the understanding still left man the power to choose.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught them that religious rituals could not take the place of truly pleasing God, by having the priest too hurried to get to his religious activities to pay any attention to the man who needed him. This is a very important point that Jesus is making, so don’t skim over it. Too many people feel, like the priest, that going to church and carrying out the rituals of their religion is the most important thing to do in serving God. They ignore living the Christian life seven days a week and loving your neighbor as yourself. This is a universal problem for church members today.
But Jesus also taught that your neighbor was not just someone who needed help, but every man who was a creature of God. The Samaritan was of a race that did not identify with the man in trouble, but he considered him his neighbor and obviously would help him, no matter what the situation or the cost.
It is important to realize that Jesus is not defining neighbor as just someone who needs help, but that we should be concerned about the welfare of every creature of God.