Why did Jesus speak in parables?

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. Mark 4:33-34

            First of all, it was prophesied that Jesus would speak in parables.

I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—Psalm 78:2 (also Isaiah 6:9-10, Ezekiel 17:2, 20:49, 24:3)

            Second, parables are stories that capture your interest and cause you to listen more closely to see the connection.  It’s a tool speakers use to generate questions.  For Jesus, a person’s interest in the meaning of the parable showed their interest in truth and meaning.

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 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.’” Matthew 13:11-15

            The parable created questions that the listener either decided to search for the meaning or blow it off and go on with life.  A hardened heart sought answers.  An open heart found truth.

            Finally, parables connect to your heart, not just your mind.  They incorporate life into the message.  You get the point because you’ve seen the point played out elsewhere in this world.  Parables make the message easier to remember.