This “something else” for Jesus was His Father’s kingdom. His stories were called “parables”, which bring two things alongside one another for contrast or comparison. In the case of Jesus’ teachings, eternal truths were brought alongside human experiences to drive His point home.
Jesus used parables to cut through the hard exterior of His listener’s hearts. Some of the people who came to hear Him were tired of religious teachers. They had been taught God’s Law since childhood, and understood its nuances, as well as man-made traditions piled on through generations of rabbinical leadership. The teachers were faithful in communicating expectations, but they were so far from the heart of God their message was void of love and grace. Without this crucial balance their teachings were used to puff up their personal pride and condemn others. Is it any wonder Jesus’ style was welcomed with open arms by those who had been spiritually harassed? His yoke was easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:29-30).
But the teachers came too. They complained a great deal (Matthew 9:11), but they still came. Their hearts were hardened by self-righteousness, and they were convinced they didn’t need spiritual help (Matthew 9:12). It was hard for them to hear the truth, and when they recognized themselves as the villains in Jesus’ parables they decided to kill Him!
In Matthew 13:13-15 Jesus explained His rationale for teaching in parables this way: “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”
Through parables, Jesus chose a form proven to connect with life, stir adventure and communicate the heart to teach important kingdom truths. And He did so with a style that was irresistible to some and reprehensible to others. Only a Master Story Teller could find a way to touch everyone. The reactions were varied, but there was always a response.