Most parables can be found in the book of Matthew or Luke. (find from “How to study bible for all its worth?”)
All the parables in comparison chart (table form).
What is parables?
– Short stories using familiar scenes to explain spiritual truth. This method of teaching compels the listener to think. It conceals the truth from those who are stubborn or prejudiced to hear what is being taught. Most parables have one main point, so we must be careful not to go beyond what Jesus intended to teach.
Also known as illustrations or analogies.
– A parable compares something familiar to something unfamiliar. It helps us understand spiritual truth by using everyday objects and relationship. Parables compel listeners to discover truth, while at the same time concealing the truth from those too lazy or too stubborn to see it. To those who are honestly searching, the truth becomes clear. We must be careful not to read too much into parables, forcing them to say what they don’t mean. All parables have one meaning unless otherwise specified by Jesus.
– The word parable comes from the idea of “to set along side.” As Jesus used parables, it means to set a spiritual truth along side a daily truth of living.
– It takes skill to make a good parable. Sometimes the things we use to explain or illustrate work against us instead of for us.
– Parables, in their spiritual function, are more like riddles or puzzles than easy illustrations. They can be understood by those who have right “key.” (Mark 4: 10-12)
i. A parable isn’t exactly an illustration. A good teacher can illustrate by stating a truth, and then illustrating the truth through a story or an analogy. But when Jesus used parables, He didn’t start by stating a truth. Instead, the parable was like a doorway. Jesus’ listeners stood at the doorway and heard Him. If they were not interested, they stayed on the outside. But if they were interested, they could walk through the doorway, and think more about the truth behind the parable and what it meant to their life.
ii. If you don’t understand the key to the parable, you don’t understand it at all. We can imagine what different people in Jesus’ audience might have thought when He taught this parable with no explanation.
· The farmer thought, “He’s telling me that I have to be more careful in the way I cast my seed. I guess I have been wasting an awful lot.”
· The politician thought, “He’s telling me that I need to begin a farm education program to help farmers more efficiently cast their seed. This will be a big boost in my reelection campaign.”
· The newspaper reporter thought, “He’s telling me that there is a big story here about the bird problem and how it affects the farming community. That’s a great idea for a series in the newspaper.”
· The salesman thought, “He’s encouraging me in my fertilizer sales. Why, I could help that farmer more than he knows if he only used my product.”
iii. But none of them could understand the spiritual meaning until Jesus explained the key to them: The sower sows the word (Mark 4:14). If you miss the key, you miss the whole parable. If you think the seed represent money, you miss the parable. If you think the seed represents love, you miss the parable. If you think the seed represents hard work, you miss the parable. You can only understand it by understanding the key: The sower sows the word.
iv. “Without the key the parables are hard to understand, for parables veil the truth of the kingdom being state in terms of another realm. Without a spiritual truth and insight they are unintelligible.” (Robertson)
Why Jesus uses parables?
– Matthew 13: 10
– Parables were used to reveal as well as to conceal truth (Isaiah 6: 9-10). Jesus concealed truth from those who would reject his message – a judgment on their hard-heartedness. Also, Jesus may have recognized that his teachings could cause casual observers, opponents and overzealous supporters to steer his ministry toward a premature conclusion. Perhaps he obscured some teaching to prevent that from happening. To people willing to receive his message, however, Jesus’ stories communicate further truth about the nature of God’s kingdom.
(to study more using the book “How to read the bible for all its worth?”)