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Jamie Johnson
3 August 2014

Jesus Spoke in Parables

NOTE: This is a written version of a message I preached to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on August 3, 2014.

A few years ago, I was sharing with a man about how I believed Jesus was the only Way to God and I shared John 14:6 with him. Though this man claimed to be a Christian, he challenged me saying that Jesus was the only Way. I mentioned that Jesus Himself said it. His response was that Jesus spoke in parables and that they were up for interpretation and they could mean different things to different people. Just this year, he and I had another discussion. We were talking about reason and I mentioned to him that I am a logical and reasonable person and I take the Bible literally, with Jesus being the only Way at the core of my faith, and I have no problem with that. Again, he mentioned how Jesus spoke in parables. And I gave a stronger challenge to him. A couple of months ago, a friend of mine was having discourse with an atheist and the "parable argument" rose up there. My friend responded well to the atheist, challenging the argument. These challenges to those who would use the "parable argument" to discount the words of Jesus (i.e., to deny Jesus being the only Way to God) play into the rest of this article.

Indeed, some do claim that Jesus speaking in parables means that either we cannot understand His words or that they are always up for interpretation, the latter really a masked form of constructivist relativism where what is true for one person is not true for another - a lie built on the idea that truth is relative. While it is true that Jesus spoke in parables, there was much He said, which was not contained in or in the form of parables, such as His death and resurrection.

Still, some will say, that Jesus taught in parables and try to discount His claim of being the Way by saying it is based on man's interpretation of a parable. Well, John 14:6 is not in a parable. Jesus saying He was the only Way to God was not a parable. Jesus being the only Way to God is supported in other verses of Scripture, and they are not parables:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God
(John 3:16-18, NASB).

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture
(John 10:9, NASB).

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved
(Acts 4:12, NASB).

[I]f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9, NASB).

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father
(Ephesians 2:13-18).

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism
(Ephesians 4:4-5, NASB).

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
(Philippians 2:5-11, NASB).

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
(1 Timothy 2:5, NASB).

And these are just some of the verses supporting that Jesus is the Way to God. When Jesus said He was the only Way to God, He meant it.

So, we have those verses, which are not parables. Yet, there is another consideration: Does this mean that the parables Jesus spoke cannot be understood and therefore His words dismissed? No! Absolutely not! Jesus explained His parables to His disciples. And if you are in Christ, you are one of His disciples!

Why did Jesus speak in parables? The disciples asked Him that very question. Consider Matthew 13:10-17 (NASB):

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.'

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The ones who while seeing do not see are the Jews and this is foretold in Old Testament prophecy. However, the verse that really destroys the "parable argument" is "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear" (Matthew 13:16, NASB). A disciple of Christ has blessed eyes that do see and blessed ears that do hear. That means a disciple of Christ even understands His parables!

The "parable argument" is ridiculous. There are things Jesus said and did that are not parables. Also, we see where Jesus interpreted parables to His followers. Even though they did not always "get it" at the time (as it was prior to the release of the Holy Spirit after His Ascension), it brings up a key point: We cannot really understand Scripture (His Word) without the Holy Spirit. So, an atheist or an unbeliever even commenting on Scripture as if he or she understands it is like a blind man describing a mountaintop vista and all the hills, farms and towns below. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:7-14 (NASB) in regards to the Holy Spirit and understanding Scripture:

[B]ut we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him."

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

The natural man (i.e., the man who does not know Christ) does not have the Holy Spirit and cannot understand spiritual things like Scripture. Sure, he can attempt to make an intellectual commentary, but is limited to man's intellect (and fallen man at that) as opposed to the interpretation by the Holy Spirit. Certainly our flesh gets in the way and people -- even Christians -- misinterpret. However, the Holy Spirit, one of the Persons of the Trinity inspired and wrote the Scriptures. We need Him to help us understand, whether parable or not. If I wanted an ant to understand something I speak, I couldn't just rely on the ant to understand unless I gave the ant my mind. Though the analogy falls short, it is an illustration of us and God and how He empowers us to understand Scripture via the Holy Spirit. Do you have His Spirit? Do you believe in faith that Jesus was your Substitute on the Cross, that He died, was buried and rose again and is the only means by which you may have relationship with God the Father? He wrote "the Book" and He provides the only means to understanding and the only means to salvation. Whom will you trust? Man's intellect or the Spirit of God?

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