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I don't think Jesus taught this way to be cruel or keep some people from "getting it". In fact, I think it was the opposite. He so badly wanted people to repent and acknowledge him that he made a confrontation with the condition of a listener's heart unavoidable. Jesus chose his words carefully to maximize their impact, forcing hearers to wrestle with his meaning and engage not just intellectually, but spiritually. He graciously would explain the parables to his disciples, but not after letting even them stew for a bit. I believe this is why he seemed to always avoid people's expectations, knowing that a little mystery helps til the soil of the soul. Even his silence did this (remember Pilot?)!
This methodology was made clear to me in Mark 10 when Jesus heads for Jerusalem and continues telling his followers about his death. This is his third prediction in which, instead of being cryptic and metaphoric, he speaks with painfully clear words that he would suffer, laying out his betrayal step by step. And the disciples still don't get it! It's likely that Jesus repeats himself here, because in chapter 9, after the second of the three predictions, Mark tells us the disciples "did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him." (Mark 9:32) He's trained them to look for the real meanings behind the stories and just when I bet they started feeling confident in their ability to understand their Teacher, he switches things up. He can't really mean he's going to die, right, guys?
Why speak that way and switch up his style if he knew they wouldn't get it? I believe he knew when to play with their expectations in order to bring about a faith crisis. As a brilliant Teacher, Jesus was stretching their minds and hearts, whether it was with metaphor or simple, plain truth. In the workout world, we call it muscle confusion, which is the process of mixing up exercises to "confuse" the muscle fibers forcing them to compensate for the new movements and therefore to grow stronger. Jesus used brain confusion to make the soul grow stronger.
The question for each of us then is whether we are willing to wrestle with Jesus' teaching, whether we allow ourselves to enter into the mystery of the word of God, as confusing and convicting as it may be. Are we ready to hear? Hungry to see? It's much easier to walk away saying, "Oh, he didn't really mean that," or to be offended and disengage. Have you read Jesus' teaching on caring for the poor lately? Divorce? Homosexuality? His return? There's plenty to be confused and/or offended about, but the wrestling in humility to leave your pattern of thinking for His is where faith is found and trained, and where your soul grows strong.