Why I Believe Jesus Spoke In Parables?

Outsiders GuideI believe Jesus spoke in parables because what he wanted most was for people to start thinking. It wasn’t about just proclaiming information that could be accepted ‘by faith’. Rather, he spoke in a way that forced people to really think about what he might possibly mean, and they needed to think quite a lot before they could even get to the point to believe it ‘by faith.’

In a world full of preachers proclaiming information about God, or information about the covenant, or information about how God relates to us, Jesus was different. He didn’t even make his message clear. He spoke in parables, in pictures, and none of them had a quick and easy explanation.

In the gospels, Jesus called people to follow him, just as he calls us today, but it is significant to note that he did not indoctrinate any of them. He did not sit them down and force them to understand his theology, to repeat it endlessly so they had it memorized and could then force it upon others.

While he did teach them, it was mostly through creating word pictures in the form of parables, it was through captivating their imagination and their hearts with questions, but he did not enforce them to have the answers he himself knew. That was a significant part of freedom Jesus seemed to respect: The freedom to seek our own understanding so when we have it we will know it really is what we believe and not just what others have told us we must blindly believe.

I guess Jesus knew it was not the accepting of information that was important, but rather the actual act of thinking that was important. For when we think, we engage our spiritual life in a personal way. When we think things through, then our conclusions belong to us fully. When we think, only then do we truly begin to believe, for only then do our beliefs truly become our own.

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This was an excerpt from my forthcoming book, out Aug 26: An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel.