So, what is a parable anyway? The term “parable” comes from two Greek words: para which means “alongside,” and ballo which means “to throw.” A parable is thrown alongside real life. It is a slice of life that is used to illustrate a spiritual truth. Unfortunately, as we’ve already discussed, the Spirit has to do the illuminating to reveal “what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Jesus fulfills that role here, as the disciples come and ask Him to interpret the parables.
Jesus reveals that the parable of the wheat and the tares illustrates that good and evil will coexist in this world, but one day evil will be punished and the righteous will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The parable of the net has a similar meaning. The parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great value are both reminders of the preciousness and pricelessness of the kingdom.
There are two parables that aren’t explained by Jesus. The parable of the home owner isn’t as clearly delineated, but still revels a truth about the kingdom. Just as a homeowner shows off both his new and old treasures, someone who believes in Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom rejoices because it is the culmination of what the Old Testament teaches, and is willing to share that truth. The parable of the yeast describes both the hidden and transformative nature of the kingdom. It starts small but infiltrates everything!
In verses 53-58 we see how difficult it is for people to change their understanding and preconceived notions about Jesus. Even with having been told about His actions and hearing His teaching, they choose not to come to him for help: “He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” There is perhaps a lesson here for us too. When we change, sometimes it’s those closest to us that have the most trouble accepting or understanding it. We may have to quietly persist in our faith before others until they are finally willing to see the truth about us!