THE NATURE OF PARABLES
WHAT reference is made in the Psalms to Christ's use of parables?
"I will open My mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old." Psalms 78:2.
NOTE.—A parable primarily means a comparison or similitude; specifically it is a short story or narrative drawn from life or nature, by means of which some important lesson is taught, or some moral drawn. From what sources did Christ usually draw His parables? From nature and from everyday experiences.
For what are His parables noted?
"Our Saviour's parables are distinguished above all others for clearness, purity, chasteness, intelligibility, importance of instruction, and simplicity. They are taken mostly from the affairs of common life, and are intelligible, therefore, to all men."—DR. ALBERT BARNES, on Matthew 13:3.
Following one of His parables, what did Christ say?
"Who hath ears to hear let him hear." Matthew 13:9.
THE WHY AND WHEREFORE OF PARABLES
What question did the disciples then ask?
"And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables?" Verse 10.
What reply did Christ make?
"He answered and said unto them, Because it is-given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in par- ables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." Verses 11-13.
NOTE.—Christ's object, therefore, in using parables was to teach the mysteries, or truths, of the kingdom of heaven—truths not necessarily difficult
to understand, but which had long been hidden or obscured by sin, apostasy, and tradition—in such a way that the spiritual-minded and those desirous of learning the truth, might understand them, and the worldly-minded and unwilling would not. When asked the meaning of any parable, Christ readily explained it to His disciples. (See Luke 8:9-15; Matthew 13:36-43; Mark 4:33, 34.)
After giving instruction by the use of parables, what question did Christ ask His disciples?
"Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto Him, Yea, Lord." Verse 51.
How extensively did Christ make use of parables?
"All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them." Verse 34.
NOTE.—Parables are simply stories. All, young and old, like to hear a story. Storytelling is one of the most successful means of awakening an interest, securing attention, and teaching, illustrating, and enforcing important truths. Christ, the greatest of all teachers, recognized this, and therefore made constant use of this method of instruction. (See reading on "Preaching the Gospel," page 623.)
SUGGESTIVE USE OF PARABLES
How did Christ suggest that His disciples follow His example in teaching gospel truth?
"Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is in- structed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." Verse 52.
Which are some of the most touching and soul winning of Christ's parables?
The parable of the lost sheep, and that of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:3-7, 11-32.)
LIGHT ON PARABLES
Each parable is designed to teach some one great and important truth. The first twelve in the list given on page 158 are intended to teach the following lessons, respectively: (1) Good and evil in life and judg- ment. (2) Value of the gospel. (3) Seeking salvation. (4) The visible church of Christ. (5) Truths new and old. (6) Duty of forgiving others. (7) Call at various epochs. (8) Insincerity and repentance. (9) Need of righteousness. (10) Watchful and careful profession. (11) Use of abilities. (12) Final separation of good and bad.
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