A parable as defined by Dictionary.com is “a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson” or “a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.”

If we were to just take this definition into account, we might logically conclude, as many do, that Jesus used parables in His teaching to make His lessons memorable and easily understood. After all, parables are illustrations, and illustrations are typically used to help in understanding. A short story like the “Pearl of Great Price” or “The Prodigal Son” is easy to remember. But we must remember, Jesus didn’t come to earth to be a storyteller…

How Scripture answers "Why did Jesus teach using parables?"

Jesus was asked this exact question by His disciples1 and we have a rare instance in which Jesus gives a direct answer to a direct question. His reason was not that it was an “effective teaching method” or because it would make it “memorable” or “easy to understand.” In fact it was just the opposite1,4. The disciples needed to ask what they meant2,7 and later, Jesus would actually contrast the practice with speaking “plainly about the Father”3.

The message of the kingdom is hidden1,5 for those that are not truly listening2 for it (or, as other Scripture puts it, seeking it). Teaching in parables (or figures of speech3) was Jesus’ practice7 as a prophet of God6 in order to distinguish those that were truly seeking truth4. This was consistent with how God spoke through His prophets of old8.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

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