With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
One day when Mary Ann and I were dating, I invited her to have dinner with my parents. My mom made her famous fried chicken, corn, and peas. The fact that the corn and peas were out of a frozen bag isn’t important. But what is important is how they were served.
The veggies were brought piping hot to the table in our “fancy” dinner plates. My mom asked if Mary Ann would like some peas. Now Mary Ann doesn’t like peas, but being raised as a respectful, gracious person said “Yes, please.” But what happened next was totally unexpected.
After two spoonful’s, Mary Ann said, “Thank you.” My mom’s response was silence and to keep on shoveling peas. Mary Ann said, “Thank you” a second time but added, “That’ plenty.” My mom didn’t suffer from any hearing defects or deficiencies at that point in her life, yet she continued to serve more and more peas. Mary Ann repeatedly asked my mom to stop with the peas, but to no avail. The great Parkville pea migration didn’t stop until there was a green replica of the Matterhorn on Mary Ann’s plate.
We’re the same way when it comes to hearing and learning. There is only so much that we can take in at any one time. We can only listen for so long, think about so much, and then digest at any one time. Trying to cram any more in is just a waste of time for both the speaker and listeners.
You’ve also found this out to be true. You can be talking to some people for a while, interacting with them, sharing a lot of give and take. It’s been good and then it happens. They start fidgeting. They fold their arms. They look away. They’ve reached their limit and that’s the end of that.
The purpose of speaking, teaching, and parables isn’t about what’s going out. It’s all about what’s going in. Are people still receptive? How much can they take in? How much more can they absorb?
I can’t tell you how many presentations I’ve given at conferences and meetings in my life. The number has to be substantial. But it doesn’t matter where you are, or even when you’re presenting. There always comes a point where it doesn’t matter if you stand on your head, your audience just isn’t going to take in anymore.
Jesus completely understands this. He talks and teaches till they reach that point where they are full. Jesus only spoke and explained when his listeners had the power and ability to take it in. Jesus didn’t try to overwhelm his audience. He didn’t try to impress them.
The truth of the matter is that genuine hearing always, always, always changes a life. There are no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a flannel board with felt figures, computer generated images with Dolby® surround sound, or virtual reality goggles. If there is no changing of opinions to the point that the listener makes different choices, then both the presenter and listener have wasted their time.
When Jesus explains parables to his disciples, he untangles them. And once untangled, it allows them to take hold of the truth of the parables and apply it to their lives. Think of it this way; a rope that’s tied up in knots is pretty much useless. And it takes lots and lots of time to unknot it. When Jesus explains a parable, he unties it, he loosens it, he unravels it. Then, the truth of the parable is right there in front of them to see, understand, and change their life.
When it comes to parables, everything comes from Jesus.
· The parables themselves comes from Jesus.
· The explanations come from Jesus.
· The answer to the parables come from Jesus.
And if this were all, that would be great. But there is another truth to listen to.
· The answer to life comes from Jesus
Jesus isn’t just some great teacher that came out of nowhere a long time ago. He isn’t a guru with remarkable stories and saying that sound interesting. He isn’t just a guy that got some followers and started a movement to change the political landscape of his country.
No. Jesus is God come down to save us. Not to fix us. Not to repair us. Not to dust us off. Jesus came to save us because we couldn’t save ourselves. We needed someone to do the saving. To do the reaching. To do the pulling us to himself and safety. Jesus isn’t one of many different, possible, answers. He says that he is the answer to life.
Is Jesus your “many” or is he your “one and only?”
 Dolby is a Registered Trademark of Dolby Laboratories, Inc.