The Purpose of the Parables


The Purpose of the Parables
Matthew 13:12–17 “Truly, I say to
you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see, and did
not see it, and to hear what you hear, and
did not hear it.” (v.

Our study today will examine the purpose of parables. Jesus tells us
Matthew 15:12–15 that He speaks in parables to hide the secrets of the
from some and reveal them to others (Matt. 13:12–15). This does not
mean His
parables are full of esoteric information that only a select few can
with their minds. Christ’s enemies often understand exactly what His
mean (see 21:33–46); the problem is their refusal to trust His
teaching about
Himself and God’s kingdom. The difficulty the Pharisees have
is moral and thus
volitional, not intellectual. They choose not to believe
our Savior’s words.
Those who take up their cross gain more access to kingdom
truth; those who
reject Him lose whatever insight they had (13:12). Matthew
Henry says parables
make the things of God “more plain and easy” to those
willing to be taught,
and “at the same time more difficult and obscure to
those who [are] willfully

A person’s final response to the
parables reveals whether or not he is elect.
Today’s passage assumes that God
chooses to save only part of sinful humanity;
the rest He leaves to harden
themselves in their sin (Rom. 9:1–18). As Dr.
R.C. Sproul has taught on many
occasions, God does not create unbelief and is
not culpable when sinners do
not respond to the parables with saving faith.
Yet this hardening is not
outside the scope of our Creator’s sovereign plan.
He sends Jesus to speak in
parables so that the rebellious will rage against
Him more fiercely and
manifest the justness of their condemnation (Matt.
13:13–15; Rom. 9:19–24).
The Almighty decrees that those whom His grace passes
over will hate His Son.
And those whom His grace passes over do choose to hate
His Son without
coercion. We are always free to do what we want, but apart
from God’s grace
we do not want to love Jesus. John Calvin writes that the
Lord opens a man’s
ears “and that no man obtains or accomplishes this by his

We would be amiss to emphasize the parables’ hardening purpose
over the
gratitude Jesus encourages in the elect. Our focus is not to be on
why God has
not chosen some. Instead, we must be thankful that He has made
us, who are no
more deserving than the reprobate, to see the kingdom (Matt.

Coram deo: Living before the face of
We should marvel at God’s
grace every time we recall that we have trusted
Christ alone for our
salvation. Before the Lord quickened us, we were dead in
sin and had no
desire at all to know or serve Him. But by His Spirit our
Creator overcame
this stubbornness and changed our hearts, enabling us to
believe the Gospel.
Take time today to thank God for His matchless grace and
remember that your
deeds contribute nothing to your salvation.

For further

Zechariah 12:10–13:1

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