“And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine.” Mark 4:2
The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of teaching and illustrating divine truths.
The first instance of this is in this chapter where he tells the parable of the sower. Before He interpreted this parable, “they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.” They said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand…” Mark 4:11-12
From this point on when He spoke in parables, He explained them only to His disciples. But those who came to him other than to worship were left in their spiritual blindness to the meaning. He made a clear distinction between those who had ears to hear and those who persisted in unbelief -ever hearing, but never actually perceiving and “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7).
The disciples were given more and more truth. The same is true today of believers who have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit has opened our hearts to the truth of God’s word.
In the parable of the sower the Lord Jesus teaches that truth is not what people wants. Even today, there are those who have neither interest nor regard in the deep things of God.
So why, then, did Jesus speak in parables?
To those with a genuine hunger for God, the parable even though told, is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths. Our Lord’s parables contain great volumes of truth in very few words and His parables, rich in imagery, are not easily forgotten. So, then, the parable is a blessing to those with willing ears. But to those with dull hearts and ears that are slow to hear, the parable is also an instrument of both judgment, and let me say and mercy also.