Mark 4:2 tells us that the Lord Jesus “…taught them many things by parables…” We read in Mark 4:34, “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” Some have said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly message. The Greek word for parable is ‘parabole’ and means, “a symbolic fictitious narrative (of common life conveying a moral), apothegm or adage.”

Your question is a very valid one. Once, the disciples asked the Lord the same thing. We read in Matthew 13:10, “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” The answer the Lord gives speaks volumes about His person and about man’s sinfulness. We read His words in verse 11, “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.” The precious truths the Lord wanted to share were for those who knew and trusted in Him. Israel, as a whole, had rejected the Lord, and so the Lord withheld His truths from them by speaking in parables. We go on to read in verse 15, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

To those who had no heart for the Lord, He would not let them in on the ‘family secrets’ that the Lord has reserved for those who are His. We read of the Lord’s sad rejection in several places. John 1:10-11 tells us, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” “THE WORLD KNEW HIM NOT” refers to all the Gentiles in the world. “HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT” refers to the Jewish nation. They were of the same natural heritage of the Lord, so He calls them “HIS OWN.” We later read of the Lord’s ultimate rejection when the religious leaders of Israel cried out against Him, “But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.”

In many of the Lord’s parables, He uses common and handy items to speak great and lofty truths. While the truths contained in some of the parables have been lost by the world, the Lord still has preserved them and their meanings for us even today so that we might read them, learn them, and live by them. (244.8)