The Crown: A Parable of the Parables

Whenever I teach on Jesus’ parables, people ask whether they are intended to reveal his true message or conceal it? If I’m feeling in a sensible mood, I give a detailed answer. If I’m feeling more playful, I give this one…

The question arises from the seemingly contradictory explanations in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, and I’ve tried to tease out my answer in this post from a few years back: do the parables reveal or conceal?

In short, I conclude that the parables have a dual function:

It seems that the result of the parables will depend somewhat on the heart-orientation of the hearer (a point which shouldn’t surprise us, given that Matthew 13 begins with the parable of the sower!) For the hearer whose heart is soft and open, the parables will bring revelation, unlock hope and lead to life. For the hearer whose heart is already hard and predisposed against God, the parables will confound and will ultimately confirm the sinful inclinations of their heart.

Here’s a different way of making that point.

For ages, I didn’t bother watching The Crown. I assumed I wouldn’t enjoy it, since I generally don’t have a great deal of interest in the Royal Family. But a friend described it to me like this:

“It’s the kind of show that can appeal to everyone differently, since it tends to confirm whatever presuppositions you already hold. If you’re the kind of person who loves the Royal Family, you will find enough in the show to reinforce your view. You’ll enjoy the glamour, and see them as quaint, fascinating and charming. If, however, you’re the kind of person who considers the Monarchy outdated, irrelevant and frankly absurd, you will be drawn to the more critical elements of the show, and will see it as confirming you in your opinion.”

I found that quite a helpful description, and having now watched the show, I think it’s true.

The creators have crafted The Crown with such nuance that whatever assumption or heart-attitude you bring into the show tends to get intensified, so that you leave it feeling all the more confirmed in your position.

(FWIW, I’m personally ambivalent-to-negative about the Monarchy as an institution, but have a great deal of respect for our Queen as a leader, and I felt that the show confirmed and deepened both of those feelings in me.)

If you accept that premise – and most people I’ve asked when teaching on this seem to – then The Crown is a pretty good parable of the parables.


Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

For a more in depth answer to this question, check out this post: Do the parables reveal or conceal?

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