A parable places two or more objects together, for the purpose of a comparison. In the broadest sense of the term there is practically no difference between a parable and a simile. Agnostics claim that the parables were imaginary stories, yet admitting the details could have actually transpired. We agree that the purpose for using a parable was to illustrate some higher truth for the listeners, but our question to these doubters is whether the creator of the world could surely have known every account He used to illustrate His points! He did not have to make up His stories; since the beginning of time, He had known all the men who ever lived as well as what they did. Consider that the one and only teacher of parables in the New Testament is Christ Himself. Christ alone would have known all the situations He used to illustrate His points.
Considering the parable of the sower, we can well understand that many agricultural people followed Christ to hear His word. Christ had farmers nearby as He was teaching. What a graphic illustration it would be for His listeners who lived off the land! The parable of the sower is found in Mat. 13:3-13; Mat. 18-23; Mark 4:3-20, Luke 8:5-15. The main difference between Matthew’s account and the other two is that there is an additional concept (application) of the reason for the Devil snatching away the word from those whose “ground” is like the wayside—hard and impenetrable. Verse 19 says they did not understand the word and thus Satan snatched it away. Again in verse 23 we see, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The difference between those who have the word snatched away and those who produce manifold fruits is whether or not they understand the word. We ought to “give the more earnest heed” to the words given by the Spirit so that we may understand and produce fruit (Heb. 2:1-4). Long ago, King David prayed that God would give him understanding so that he might “live” before Him (Psa. 119:144). David also prayed, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (Psa. 119:27).
Under the Old Law, the Levites, Priests and Scribes “caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place” (Neh. 8:7-8, 13). Job begged God to, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24). Solomon, the wisest man to live, said, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Prov. 1:5).
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:9-10).
Finally we need to consider the profound teaching found in the book of Daniel and understand why Daniel was so favored by the Lord. “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Dan 10:12).
- What is a parable?
- Why did Jesus speak to the people in parables (Mat. 13:10-16)?
- What right did Jesus have to teach in parables?
- What is the main difference between the accounts of the sower in Matthew, Mark and Luke?
- What important word is included in Matthew’s account?
- What happens to the word of God in the hearts of those who don’t understand it (Mat. 13:19)?
- Why did God give the apostles understanding to his word (Mat. 7:7-9)?
- How does a man understand the word of God (2 Tim. 2:7)?
- Why did Jesus not want the Jews to understand his word (John 8:44, 47; Luke 13:34; 2 Thes. 2:10-12)?
- According to Solomon, how does understanding come (Prov. 2:1-6; Prov. 15:32)?
- What did David command Solomon to get as he searched for wisdom (Prov. 4:1-7)?
- According to Solomon, what is an essential part of our growing in wisdom (Prov 14:33)?
- According to Isaiah 28:9, 19, when should we begin teaching knowledge and understanding to our children?
- What did the Levites, Priests and Scribes do for the people (Neh. 8:7-8, 13)?
- When did God begin to hear Daniel’s words (Dan. 10:12)?