Why did Jesus speak in parables?

When I was young, I wondered why Jesus spoke in parables.  Did he think that people were too uneducated to understand any other type of teaching? Why not just tell them directly yet simply about the message he was trying to get across?

After reading the Bible, my question was answered. I admired the parables for their ability to get the message across for all peoples and all time:
1.  The parables would have been easier to translate into other languages than the direct message would have been, since some of these messages handle complex and otherwise abstract theological concepts.  We have to remind ourselves that we are among the many beneficiaries of this ease of translation - the Bible wasn't originally written in English!
2.  Parables offered less chance that the messages would get distorted over time, whether uninentionally or for self-serving political or other purposes.
3.  These agriculturally based messages can be readily understood by anyone in any culture, and this will continue regardless of how technology evolves.  This allows the individual who is reading the parable to have the capacity to understand it themselves.  Imagine if Jesus had used parables involving a computer! No-one would have been able to understand these for almost two millenia. 

These days, I'm grateful that when I read the parables it means I'm reading something that no-one has really been able to 'mess with' even though these have been handed down for over two millenia.

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