Preachers have used Jesus’ parables for personal agendas, Sunday school classes treasure these stories you can relate to. What is the significance of Jesus’ use of stories as medium for His teaching, pastor-teacher John MacArthur asks in the appendix of Parables The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told. Jesus Himself answered that question when He said He employed parables for a dual reason: to illustrate the truth for those who were willing to receive it, and to obscure the truth from those who hated it anyway.
In this new book MacArthur explores a series of Jesus’ parables as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Whether the true meaning of story’s symbolic features is obvious or one that requires some detective work (and yes, the author loves to dig deeper and teach us on his findings), the point is still the same: Jesus’ parables were are illustrative of gospel facts. Parables aren’t allegories, full of symbols from top to bottom. They highlight one important truth – just like the moral of a well-told story. The kingdom of God, God’s grace, His care for the weak and neglected, the call to be prepared for His return, the impossibility to keep all commandments and prohibitions in the Mosaic Law. The stories were not creative alternatives to propositional truth statements, designed to supplant certainty. The parables are no mind games, tricks, myths or invitations to choose any interpretation you like yourself.
Every one of His parables had an important lesson to convey. When you see the key point of a parable, you have understood the essence of whatever truth the story aims to convey. Jesus’ stories were remarkable for both their simplicity and their sheer abundance. Jesus clearly like to teach by telling stories rather than giving a list of raw facts for rote memorization, or by outlining information in a neatly catalogued systematic layout. I bet you’ll learn many new insights, even from parables you already heard 10 times.
About the Author
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, president of the Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. In more than four decades of ministry, John has written dozens of bestselling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, and Slave. He lives in Los Angeles.