As an English speaker, if someone spoke to me in Russian, Spanish, or Chinese and asked me to open the door, or wash the dishes, I would not be able to carry out those actions. Why? Simply becuse I do not understand what is being asked of me.
At the first coming Jesus spoke in parables, using a spiritual language. When he spoke about the kingdom of heaven and described it as a mustard seed growing into the largest of the garden plants with birds perching in its branches, Jesus was clearly not talking about a literal tree, or a literal bird. The same goes for the other parables in Matthew 13. If we do not understand this language how can we do what is being asked of us, so why exactly did Jesus speak so cryptically, using this spiritual language while speaking in parables?
Here are 3 reasons:
#1 Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy
Psalm 78:1-2 says,
“O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—”
Asaph wrote this Psalm, it is a prophecy about what would take place later. The fulfillment of this prophecy is shown in Matthew 13:34-35
“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
#2 Jesus spoke in parables to hide the secrets of heaven
Matthew 13:10-11 says,
“The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
Here we see two different groups, the “you” group and the “them” group. The “you” group is referring to the 12 disciples, and those who asked for the explanation of the parables (Mt 13:36), they are the ones who have ears to hear and eyes to see (Mt 13:16). The “them” group are those who “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Mt 13:13-15). The “them” group did not understand about the things that had been hidden since the creation of the world, they did not understand God’s secret wisdom (1 Cor 2:7). You do not share your secrets with people you cannot trust, in the same way Jesus had to hide the secrets of the kingdom of heaven from his enemies – Satan and those who belong to him (Jn 8:44-47).
#3 Jesus spoke in parables because God had designated another time to explain these secrets
John 16:25 says,
“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.”
In the last chapter of the book of Daniel – which is a book of visions and prophecies – Daniel asks for an explanation of all the things he has seen and heard because he has not understood any of it (Dn 12:8). However, in response the angel tells Daniel to go his way because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end (Dn 12:9). This means that only at the “time of the end” will we have the true, correct and complete understanding of the parables and prophecies, only once the words have been unsealed and opened. However, we have been given these prophecies now, before it happens, so that when it does happen we will believe (Jn 14:29).
How many different languages do you understand?