“Why Speakest Thou unto Them in Parables?”

Matthew 13:10–14

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“By speaking in parables, Jesus is simply practicing what He has been preaching. In the Sermon on the Mount He told the Twelve they were to go forth into the world, preach the gospel, call upon men to repent, and invite them to join the Church. They were instructed, however, to keep the mysteries of the kingdom within themselves, and not to give that which was holy unto the dogs, or to cast their pearls before swine. Jesus told them that the world could not receive that which they themselves were scarcely able to bear, and that if they gave gospel pearls to the wicked and ungodly, such unbelieving and rebellious people would first reject the message, and then use the very truths they had heard to rend and destroy and wreak havoc among those whose faith was weak.

“Now we find Jesus on the Galilean shore in the midst of a great congregation, gathered out of every city. Among them are the Twelve, many disciples who know He is the Messiah, and many others, influenced by the scribes and Pharisees, who reject Him as an imposter and believe His miracles are wrought by an evil power. So great is the press of the people that He enters a ship, seats Himself, and addresses the multitude standing on the shore. Many truths and much exhortation—as His custom is—fall from His lips, in addition to which, the record says, ‘He spake many things unto them in parables’ [Matthew 13:3].

“Later, being alone with the Twelve and certain other favored disciples, He is asked why He speaks in parables and what the parables mean. As to the choice of parables as a means of teaching, be it noted, the disciples did not ask, ‘Why speakest thou unto us in parables?’ but, ‘Why speakest thou unto them’—unto the scribes and Pharisees; unto the spies sent by the Sanhedrin to find fault with His every word; unto those whose hearts were hardened against the word—‘Why speakest thou unto them in parables?’ Jesus answered:

“‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given’ [Matthew 13:11].

“These words are from Matthew. But, better still, as Mark preserves the account, Jesus said:

“‘Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables’ [Mark 4:11].

“That is to say, parables are for nonmembers of the Church, for those outside the kingdom, or, at best, . . . for those who are weak in the faith; who are not prepared to receive the truth involved in plain words; from whom the full truth must, as yet, remain hidden. To the Twelve, Mary Magdalene, and the other faithful disciples, both male and female, who traveled and ministered with Him, to all of the believing Saints of His day—to them it was given to know the doctrine; for them it need not be hidden in a parable.

“‘For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; But whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

“‘Therefore speak I to them in parables; because they, seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand.

“‘And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias concerning them, which saith, By hearing, ye shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing, ye shall see and shall not perceive’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:10–13].”

(The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 2:238–39.)