The Pharisees’ campaign of hatred against Jesus was extremely severe. They were envious of Jesus Christ and ultimately they prevailed in killing Him on a wooden cross. One can just imagine what they must definitely have really felt when they saw huge crowds listening closely to Him as well as following Him when He initially came to be recognized. Later on in John 5:18 the Pharisees were frantic that Jesus claimed to be God and is starting to stir the crowd with His miracles and also casting out of demons. With this understanding in mind, we will unravel the exegetical evidence for why Jesus spoke in parables!
In the winter time of A.D. 32, the gospel of Matthew informs us that they accused Jesus of using demonic power. After that in the spring of A.D. 32, they did it once again. They will do it one more time in Luke 11:14 -23 demonstrating that they do not fear Christ. The snowball of attacks is increasing. The objective was to murder Jesus– to eliminate Him.
For centuries the Rabbis and Pharisees had actually taught the people that the coming Messiah would have to satisfy specific requirements to be acknowledged as the Messiah. He was expected to do certain things that no human can do. The people were taught that the Messiah will certainly heal the blind, lame and mute.
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing; for waters will break out in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:5-6
Yet, as all of us know, after He did exactly that and those in religious authority still denied Him and even attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to that of Satan!
Jesus had previously cast satanic forces out of folks in Matthew 4:24, 8:16 -17 and afterwards once again in 10:8. How many times had He cast out demons? We do not know, however He must have cast out an incredibly large number of demons since the Pharisees charged Him of doing it by the power of Satan. The picture the gospels portray is that Jesus was frequently casting them out. In Matthew 12:30 -32 Jesus warned them that they had actually committed the unpardonable sin. Yet they disregarded the warning.
“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” – Matthew 12:30-32
According to the early church father Origen, the Pharisees did try exorcising evil spirits by making use of the sacred name of God and referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However they were evidently not that successful according to the Graece Magicae Papyri, which records that some Jewish priests were making use of Jesus’ name to cast out demons but they failed in their attempt and the demon assaulted them.
But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. – Acts 19:13-16
This practice was afterwards rebuked by some Jewish rabbis. Why did they attempt to make use of Jesus’ name? The answer is that they observed others making use of Jesus’ name to cast out demons and it worked! It worked far better than their incantations and rituals.
One can just imagine that the Pharisees had a hard time when they saw Jesus casting out demons successfully every single time, yet that was not true of their sons. What was even worse is that the crowds were astonished. As a result, the religious leaders had a choice. Either Jesus’ method was by divine power or by demonic power. They chose the latter method. They asserted that He made use of Satanic power. They were blind and they despised Him!
Exegetical evidence shows that it was at this point onwards that Jesus started to deliver the mysteries-of-the-kingdom in parables – AFTER the Jewish leaders had indeed blasphemed the Holy Spirit, by accusing Christ of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Jesus was sent out initially and SOLELY to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to fulfil all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. Throughout the initial part of His ministry, He ministered primarily to the Jews. in such a way that His purpose and also Messianic claims were undoubtedly clear. Having said that, as soon as He had been accused of casting out demons, by satanic power, His clear, Messianic proclamations, started to be shrouded in parables – so that those whose hearts were hardened against God and also His anointed Christ, would hear with their ears, but be deaf to its meaning.
The people blasphemed the Holy Spirit; committing the unpardonable sin and were given no more grace. Henceforth, Jesus left them to their judgement and spoke only in parables to them but spoke plainly to the Apostles.
And He said to them [Apostles], “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that
‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’ ” – Mark 4:11-12