Mar 21

Session 2 Recap: Carson, “Why Does Jesus Tell Stories?”

2015 | by Nathan Sherman | Category: Clarus 15

Editor’s Note: Grant Blankenship is the Preaching Elder at Cedar Springs Church in Cedar Crest, NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition. This post is a summary of D.A. Carson’s message from Friday evening at Clarus, March 20, “Why Does Jesus Tell Stories?,” from Matthew 13:10-17, 34-35.


In the second session, D. A. Carson set the stage for his message from Matthew 13 by asking a very intriguing question: Why did Jesus tell stories? Even though Jesus sometimes did speak plainly to his inner-most circle about his mission here on earth, he frequently taught in parables and stories to the public. But why?

Dr. Carson first addressed a few wrong answers, such that Jesus told stories because he was an excellent story teller.  He was able to make use of powerful illustrations in order to really pull on the heart strings of his listeners and really drive his point home.  And by telling stories, Jesus was able to leave the lesson open ended to his hearer’s imagination in order that the application could continue in their mind beyond the initial setting. While there is some shred of truth to these suggestions, Mathew 13 gives a much fuller picture.

Jesus Tells Parables Because, In Line With Scripture, His Message Blinds, Deafens And Hardens

Dr. Carson began his explanation in Matthew 13 by explaining why Jesus quoted from Isaiah 6.  In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is told by God that he will proclaim what the Lord has told him so that Israel would “see but not perceive, hear but not understand”.  Dr. Carson explained that part of the reason Jesus told stories was so that the message would be heard by some only to ensure that the message would harden their hearts. Thus it is the faithful preaching of the truth itself that, for many people, actually guarantees their unbelief. Fully aware of this reality, Jesus knew he was often speaking to people who were blinded by the light, and he intentionally made his teaching more perplexing.

Jesus Tells Parables Because, In Line With Scripture, His Message Reveals Things Hidden In Scripture

At this point, Dr. Carson asked the question everyone wonders at some point in their spiritual walk: Why does Scripture so often speak in poetic, metaphoric language?  Why doesn’t Scripture just come out and say exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and by whom exactly will it happen?   Dr. Carson showed that in the fullness of God’s matchless wisdom, he set forth trajectories until the fullness of time when God sent forth his Son.  Moreover, if the Old Testament was plain in its description of how the future would unfold, our sinful nature would run to be part of that fulfillment, while raising all sorts of questions about God’s sovereignty vs. human free will.

Finally, Dr. Carson concluded with a few applications from his exposition.  First, we should gain wonder in worship where there is a fresh grasp of understanding how God has put the Bible together. Second, we should gain discretion.  The believer should be aware that there are times when discretion is appropriate in an environment that is hostile toward the truth no matter how it is explained.  And finally, the believer should gain gratitude and humility in understanding that the gift of sight has been granted to them only by the Holy Spirit. The ability to understand the immensity of God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness foretold in the Old Testament and fulfilled in Jesus Christ is truly a gift from God. Praise be to God!