Read Matthew 13:10-13
10 The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”
11-15 He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. (THE MESSAGE)
Jesus did things differently. He didn’t seem to bludgeon people into accepting his message. He didn’t seem to set out logical propositions in order to have people come to agree with him. Rather than giving lectures, he told stories. He certainly did use reason and persuasive arguments, but he tailored his message to his audience. And to the public at large, he told stories or parables.
He didn’t do this to be deliberately obscure. He did it to stimulate imagination. In passing, it is a matter of regret that too much preaching steers clear of such an appeal to the imagination. Jesus wanted to check out readiness to receive what he had to say.
Parables he told were not the final word, but an introduction. Those who were open to what he had to say were intrigued by his stories and went to find out more—just as his disciples had done. Those who were not interested, lost interest. His stories were a sort of filtering device. As our text suggests, they ‘nudged’ the people towards insight.
Jesus never made the mistake of assuming that the more information we give to people the more they are likely to respond. He was more subtle than that. He never lapsed into religious clichés either—his parables are just about all set in the secular world. He did things differently. It worked. So perhaps we can try to tell more of the great gospel story in stories ourselves.