All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)
Asaph The Prophet And Jesus
The style and methodology of Jesus’ teaching were not a new discipline for the Jewish people who were familiar with the writings of the prophets. Reading the works of Moses and the prophets embodied how Jesus presented the word of His Father. His message was very different from how the Jewish leaders taught the holy scripture, for Jesus taught with authority. The book of Matthew is addressed to a Jewish audience and throughout the gospel, the message of fulfillment is clearly defined. No other book identifies the expression of fulfillment more than Matthew.
When Matthew begins writing about the parables of Jesus, he notes that Jesus did not speak to the people without using parables. Not all the parables of the Lord are found in the gospels as John notes in his book, the world could not contain everything Jesus said and did. There are less than fifty parables found in the teachings of Jesus. Those that are found fulfill the message of a prophet named Asaph, who was a psalmist and seer of the Lord during the days of King David. Asaph, a Levite, was appointed by David over the service of song at the Tabernacle until Solomon built the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.
The psalm which Matthew quotes is Psalm 78. This psalm is not considered a “Messianic Psalm,” but nonetheless has implications of prophecy attached to Jesus. The psalm of Asaph is a critical review of Israel from the covenant of God with Jacob to the promise of salvation in Mount Zion and the coming of a shepherd. God provided everything Israel needed and yet Israel continued to rebel against Him. The Hebrews never lacked food, water, clothing, or protection. God’s wrath punished them through the wilderness wanderings. Warnings of the punishment against Egypt did not sway the people’s hearts. A generation of people died in the wilderness because they rejected the word of the Lord. Judah was chosen over Joseph and David was chosen as the shepherd of God’s people.
Jesus’ teaching with parables was not merely a style of teaching that fulfilled prophecy. Matthew takes the very heart of Psalm 78 to illustrate the message of God to the world as His mercy, grace, love, wrath, punishment, and salvation in the One who was the Lion of Judah and the Son of David to be the redemptive Savior of the world. Like Israel, most would reject the teachings (parables) of Jesus. Rebellion characterized the people of God, and the world would not only reject the work of God’s Son – they would kill him. Jesus fulfilled scripture when He spoke in parables as the Messenger of the Divine who uttered things kept secret from the foundation of the world. All of the teachings of Jesus are the summation of the scheme of redemption set forth before time began.
The parables of Jesus are not just enjoyable children’s stories. Buried deep within the recesses of each line is the eternal message of hope in the Shepherd who came to give His life for His flock. The words of Jesus are life and eternal life will not be found outside the teachings of God’s Son. Asaph was a prophet who wrote about the work of the Messiah. The people of Jesus’ day heard the parables of Jesus to know the will of the Father. Every word of the Bible is delivered to the world to know and believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It could easily be said everything between Genesis and the Revelation is the greatest parable ever written.