The Purpose of Parables- To Conceal and To Reveal
If you read last week’s article, the following story will sound familiar:
Once upon a time was a very wise, gentle, and loving king, who ruled over his land with great skill. The people loved him very much. And as this king grew older, he had to determine who would rule in his place as an honest and loving king. He had three sons from which to choose. So, he gave each of his sons a pack of flower seeds and told them that the one who grows the most beautiful flowers from these seeds will have his throne. Six months later, the king came and visited his sons to check on the progress of their flowers. Now, the first two sons had beautiful flower beds, while the third son had nothing in his plot but weeds and thistles. Yet, the king chose this son to have the throne. Why? Why would the king give his throne to the son who grew no flowers?
When you hear like the one you just read, you come away feeling puzzled; maybe even frustrated. But when you are given the last bit of information, you think, “Oh, now everything makes sense.” And that brings me to the topic of this week’s sermon: Jesus spoke in parables to reveal things that were previously hidden in Scripture. Before we get to that, I want to satisfy your curiosity about the riddle of the king and the son to whom he gave his throne.
Why did the king give the kingdom to the son who didn’t grow any flowers? Well, because he was the only son who didn’t cheat. The king had baked the seeds in an oven so they wouldn't grow, which means the first two didn't use the seeds from the packet he gave them. The king, being a righteous and honest king, wanted an honest son to rule in his place. The choice for him was easy, but you didn’t know that. You didn’t have the key to understanding. But once you were given this key, you had no trouble understanding. Everything makes sense now.
This is the way it is with Scripture. All of the information about the coming of the Messiah is there; all of the pieces of the puzzle are in the Bible. Once you see truth revealed, you wonder how anyone could not see it. But here’s the amazing thing—unless God gives you the key to understanding His Word, you won’t be able to see. Understanding and embracing the gospel is always a matter of grace. We must recognize that the reason that we are believers is not because of our innate goodness; it is not because of our wisdom; it is not because of our intelligence; it is only because of the sheer grace of Christ.
In Matthew 13:35, Jesus quotes Psalm 78:2. The Jews of Jesus’ day did not have a category for a crucified Messiah, but those categories are in the Old Testament. In Matthew 13:11, Jesus refers to “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.” A “mystery” in the New Testament does not refer to a “Whodunit?” It occurs 27 or 28 times in the New Testament and is almost always bound up with things hidden in the past in Scripture but now disclosed in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. “They’re there,” Jesus is saying, “but I’m going to reveal to you what has been hidden. The pieces are already there.”