MATTHEW 13:34—Did Jesus always speak in parables or not?
PROBLEM: This text states distinctly that “without a parable He [Jesus] did not speak to them.” However, Jesus gave His whole Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7) without a single parable in it.
SOLUTION: There are two qualifying factors that must be noted, one of which is stated and another implied. First, Matthew 13:34 states that Jesus spoke these things “to the multitude,” whereas the Sermon on the Mount was given to His “disciples” (Matt. 5:1–2; cf. Luke 6:20), even though the multitudes apparently listened in (cf. Matt. 7:28). What is more, Jesus’ statement may have only a reference to what He was doing at that time, not on every occasion. It does not say that He always and on every occasion spoke to a crowd only in parables. However, this interpretation is possible, since we have only a limited record of what Jesus spoke (cf. John 21:25).
Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties (345). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.