Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:10–13)
Why did Yeshua teach in parables? Why didn’t he just use plain language to explain what he wanted to say? Why did he have to so many stories that seem so cryptic and puzzling? Did he want his listeners to understand his message, or was masking his teachings with layers of coded symbolism that he only explained to his closest disciples? Was he hiding secret truths from the masses as the Gnostics believed? For example, the Gnostic work called the Apocryphon of John opens with the claim to be “The teaching of the savior, and the revelation of the mysteries and the things hidden in silence, even these things which he taught John, his disciple.” Did Yeshua teach Gnosticism?
As opposed to the biblical concept of faith—trust combined with faithfulness—the primary tenet of Gnosticism is belief or knowledge (gnosis). At times, the Gospels seem to support this perspective. Matthew records Yeshua telling his disciples, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Just a few verses further Matthew says the reason Yeshua speaks in parables is to fulfill the prophecy which says, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world” (v.35). But is this the proper way to understand Yeshua’s teachings?