Giving somebody the Gospels to read can provide a confusing experience. Assuming that Jesus was - through his life and ministry, trying to tell us something new and important, he went about it in a strange way. Why?
Why are the stories of Jesus's life mostly a matter of him telling parables, performing wonders and making enigmatic comments? What did he mean by this?
Owen Barfield has an astonishing chapter called The Mystery of the Kingdom in Saving the Appearances (1957) which suggests the answer. He analyses the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 20: 9-13; Mark 4: 9-12; Luke 8: 9-10) - in particular "For whoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand."
Barfield remarks that, taken as it stands, this seems immoral, indeed brutal. But traced to the relevant implied passages of the Old Testament, the parable seems to be talking about idolatry - and in Jesus's time, the major Jewish idolatry was of Pharisaism: idolatry of The Law. That is, seeing the word of God as something 'out there', something literal, something interpreted by expert-rulers to which 'we' need (merely) to submit, passively.
To paraphrase Barfield (as I understand him) the suggestion is that Jesus is introducing a new era in which we must live from-within, from God-in-us, creatively and imaginatively. In the Gospels; Jesus himself seems to 'model' this life for us; living from the heart, from inner evaluations - by personal prayer, personal revelations, by intuitive and imaginative acts of many kinds.
Suddenly, the whole Method of Jesus seems to make sense! The parables are designed to compel people to use their imagination in understanding (or else, merely be confused) - in their very nature, parables are the opposite of legalism: they are non-rule-like, indirect, inexplicit/ implicit, un-paraphrase-able...
Much the same can be said of the miracles - their 'meaning' is not something that can satisfactorily be set out 'in prose' - in the same way that the meaning of a true poem cannot be set out in prose. And more generally, perhaps especially in John's Gospel (written by his beloved disciple, and one of the great artistic and philosophical geniuses of the ancient world - at least on a par with Plato); Jesus will seldom give a straight answer to a straight question - nearly always he is allusive, poetic, hinting...
The idea seems to be that to understand the Gospels we must meet the words and actions of Christ with a response from within ourselves - and nothing else will suffice! Attempts to extract a 'system of laws and instructions which can be codified and forced-upon people are thwarted (or such attempts at paraphrasing are made to feel, to the evaluation of our hearts, deeply unconvincing, obtuse, manipulative).
Barfield is saying that to someone 'that hath' the capacity to meet Jesus's words and actions with an imaginative response from that which is divine within them; then there is given understanding - and growth towards god-hood. But to someone 'that hath not' this capacity... well the whole thing seems absurd and nonsensical at best, and perhaps a cynical and brutal exercise in evasion and arrogance.
In cosmic terms; the life of Christ marks the (divinely intended) turning-point in the historical evolutionary unfolding consciousness of Man - the subtleties and many aspects of of which I will have to leave-aside at present. (Please read the chapter - and indeed the book; but don't expect a quick and easy comprehension.)
What I take from all this, is a new appreciation of the absolute appropriateness of what Jesus said and did, and the wrong-headed (indeed idolatrous) literalness with which this has been so often misinterpreted by those who 'hath not', who do not understand, who are seeking to make Christianity into just-another-religion of obedience to social control: of passive submission external laws, rituals and rules.
We cannot be given Christianity, we cannot be given an understanding of the meaning of Jesus; each person must gain this for himself or herself by developing within that which Christ wanted us to develop, and gave us the means of developing. But we, personally, must do it - and there are no shortcuts or signposted paths; the Method is active, creative, imaginative, intuitive.
How should I understand a poem, a painting, a piece of music? Think of the nature of the only true answer to such questions, and how an inner development of imagination is required... Analogously; 'what did Jesus teach; what did he mean?' are questions of the same general type.