Day 12

Jesus Speaks in Parables

from the Matthew reading plan

Matthew 13:1-52, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-52, 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

Until last year, I had never seen the movie Star Wars. This was the cinematic equivalent of blasphemy for my in-laws, my friends—pretty much everyone else in the world, really. Star Wars is part of our cultural lexicon, but when you’ve never seen it, most references to it go unnoticed. It’s as if fans of the film franchise speak another language when they talk about it. Sure, I was familiar with the line, “Luke, I am your father,” but anything more than that, and I was totally lost. I’d heard about Star Wars a lot, but I’d never understood the context of what I was hearing. And I certainly couldn’t contribute to the conversation.

When Jesus taught in parables, He was speaking to two audiences. Some, like His disciples, understood what He was teaching. And if they didn’t understand, they would ask Jesus to explain. Others belonged to the “you will hear but never understand” camp (Matthew 13:14). Much like being a part of a conversation about a movie you’ve never seen or a book you’ve never read, the latter audience could tune out Jesus’ message.

Jesus knew that by speaking in parables, His message would get through to the right people—the people who would open their hearts to Him and who would work to see the kingdom of God flourish. He also knew that the people who were out to get Him (the Pharisees, the Romans) would not understand the parables, and so to some degree, parables were a protective measure.

Reading the parable of the sower, I wonder where I land on the spectrum of listeners. As Jesus sows the seeds of His message, how receptive are my heart and mind? Do I have a hard heart and closed eyes when I read Scripture? Do I read the difficult parts with the same rigor and delight as I do the easier passages? Do I cling to the Jesus who heals and pardons, and shy away from the Jesus who turns over tables and calls out sinners? Do I let the double-edged sword of Scripture do its good, sanctifying work in me?

Eugene Peterson wrote it this way in The Message: “They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

I know my heart is rocky and full of weeds that choke out the Word. The parable of the sower exposes my idols, holding them up to the light of Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God, about the freedom and peace He, and He alone, brings. But I am tempted to fall away when trials come, turning to my own strength instead of the Word of God. I chase the material, the next-best, and the greener grass, instead of running relentlessly after Jesus alone. My faith is weak, even when I long for it to somehow be enough.

The remedy for my fallow heart is the Word.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). May it be so with us. May we be eager listeners with hearts rich with fertile ground, anxious know His teaching, and ready to whatever He asks of us.


Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing, and reading in Nashville, Tennessee. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables. She writes online at

Post Comments (60)

60 thoughts on "Jesus Speaks in Parables"

  1. Lisa Stang says:

    Lord I pray that my heart is fertile. I pray that my ears hear and my eyes hear. I pray for deep understanding of your word so that I may encounter the world with your grace, love and mercy. I pray that I am able to spread the word and reach those not easily reached. I pray that those see if you have forgiveness for me, surely Lord they will know you have forgiveness them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  2. Lindsey Bailey says:

    My heart doesn’t fully grasp every concept and truth that the Word holds. I read a passage during a certain time of my life and maybe I get nothing from it. A year later, I encounter the same passage and the truth resonates in my heart. And yet still, there is more truth to know. A year after that, the same passage teaches me something entirely new. The Word of God is an ocean. Flowing. And the depths are unknown. Lord, help my heart to have the capacity to know your depths and see your truth. Your Word is living. May that life flow into my own life.

  3. Alison Walker says:

    Great analogy, Melanie! Very insightful!

  4. Jinny says:

    Lord please help me and my children to be the fertile soil that bears good fruit. amen.

  5. Jo Gistand says:

    Oh I love this— my heart is so easily distracted and choked up by the things of this world. I pray that he continues to reveal himself
    To me through his Word

  6. Laura says:

    I feel like this devotion was the perfect follow up for the passage. I struggled reading the passage with actually listening to what I was reading and internalizing rather than doing it to check a box. Lord may I flourish in your word.

  7. Julie L says:

    This passage where Jesus tells parables in an intentionally unclear manner has always struck me as odd. Why would Jesus want to make his teachings unclear? The Star Wars analogy helped to shed some light on this for me, especially because I’ve never seen that series either. I’m don’t really like sci-fi movies, but I also resist giving in to the cultural phenomenon. I think this is the same concept for those who cannot understand Jesus’ parables. Living in ignorance because I don’t really like what Jesus has to say about topic X or simply being stubborn and refusing to bow down to Him with sin Y. I still have some mental wrestling to do with this, but I appreciate the insight this devotional brought!

  8. Ellie Shepherd says:

    I love what you said about having a weak faith, even when you want so badly for Jesus to be all you need.

    That’s something I’ve been working with daily. I’ve been facing trials in every direction lately, and I’ve felt like my life is completely falling apart. A lady from my church spoke some words to me that have made such a difference. She said, “You know God is doing something big in your life. That’s why you continue to pray. But instead of praying for all the things that are going wrong – all the issues you’re having – start praying in praise and thanks for what he’s doing. Praise him for the outcome. Praise him for what he’s shifting and moving to make all things work together for your good. Because he’s about to blow your mind.” When I started praying this way – I could feel my faith strengthening. We get sad and hurt when things happen – and it’s human to feel those emotions. But if we lean heavily into Christ and pursue his heart, thanking him along the way, our faith will be strengthened and he will do things we could never imagine. Loved this today!

    1. Larissa Wiebelhaus says:

      Love this! I, too, have found this to work and it changes my whole outlook on my life! Thank you for sharing! Praying for you! ♥️

    2. Kristie Wright says:

      Oh Ellie, boy do I know where you are at. I’ve been experiencing quite a few trials myself. Thank you for sharing what your church friend shared with you. I have been trying to pray the same way. Praying with praise for how God is going to work these seemingly impossible situations for good. My trust and faith us growing. May God bless you my friend!

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