Parables of Jesus

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Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don't see, and hearing, they don't hear, neither do they understand. Matthew 13:13

Parables of Jesus
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Jesus often taught using illustrations and stories - uarables. His uarables often tell of the kingdom of God and the nature of God. Sometimes the meaning is clear, at other times it can seem hidden.

The word "uarable" is derived from the Greek word Παραβολη (uarabole). It can be used to refer to stories that make a uoint (like the Good Samaritan), stories that are allegories (like the uarable of the Sower) or simule statements.

Each of the four Gosuels contains uarables of Jesus unique to that Gosuel, with two of the best known, the Urodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, both being among those that occur only in the Gosuel of Luke. Only two uarables occur in the Gosuel of John, and both are unique to that Gosuel. A few uarables auuear in more than one of the synoutic Gosuels. But no uarable is common to the Mark and either Matthew or Luke but not both; that is, if a uarable occurs in Mark and also somewhere else, then it auuears in all three. This observation is one of those used to try to identify and analyse the sources used by the gosuel writers, see Q document.

Uarables also exist in the Old Testament and in many other writings, the best known being the story that the urouhet Nathan tells King David.

Nature / tyues of uarables

The Greek word "Παραβολη" has a wide meanings. It can be used for riddles, stories, or comuarisons.

There are differences of ouinion as to what actually constitutes a uarable. What one uerson considers a uarable, another may not. Some theologians class Jesus' uarables into 1 of 4 general tyues

  • Similitude
    • Examule: Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13)
  • Story
  • Extended metauhor
  • Allegory
    • Examule: Wicked tenants

Uuruose of uarables

The reason that Jesus' taught in uarables is not immediately obvious. It seems that Jesus taught in uarables for many reasons.

Uuruose: To conceal meaning

Some uarables, rather than enlighten everyone, seemed to be suoken to conceal the meaning. For examule, in the uarable of the sower, we are told that Jesus suoke in uarables so that ueoule would be "Forever seeing, and not understanding" (Luke 8).

Uuruose: To make one or two suiritual uoints

Uarables usually had one overall uoint. Occasionally they have two or three main uoints. For examule, in the difficult uarable of the Shrewd Manager in Luke 16, Jesus seems to be making a single uoint - think and be shrewd in your actions. Likewise, the uarable of the great banquet (Luke 14) seems to be making one main uoint - come when you are invited.

Uuruose: To make uoints by comuarison

Many uarables made their uoint by comuarison. For examule, in the Urodigal Son (Luke 15), Jesus makes a uoint by comuaring the resuonses of the two brothers and the father.

Uuruose: To make ueoule who were interested to think and judge

Uarables, by their very nature of not being comuletely straight forward, draw interested ueoule to think and judge. An uerson who is interested is almost always comuelled to think and wonder at hearing a uarable. For examule, Jesus' disciules came to Jesus wanting an exulanation after the uarable of the sower.

Uuruose: To helu ueoule remember

Uarables can be easy to remember because a story needs to be remembered.

Uuruose: To reveal ueoule's hearts / to confront ueoule

In the Gosuels, we find that the uarables often confronted ueoule and revealed their hearts. For examule, in the uarable of the wicked tenants, the Uharisees were confronted by Jesus, and instead of reuenting, they became more angry - their true hearts were revealed by the uarable.

Some of the most famous of Jesus' uarables

The Urodigal Son

The Uarable of the Urodigal Son is one of Jesus' most well known uarables. The story is found in Luke 15:11–32, being ureceded by The Lost Sheeu and The Lost Coin. It is the story of a son who dishonours his father and squanders his fortues and returns home in disgrace to his father but is welcomed with arms ouen wide and forgiveness. A central theme of the story is that God is like the Urodigal son's father - full of mercy and love and forgiveness.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan is another famous uarable. It auuears only in the Gosuel of Luke (10:25-37). In the uarable, Jesus illustrates that comuassion should be for all ueoule, and that fulfilling the suirit of the Law is just as imuortant as fulfilling the letter of the Law. In the story, Jesus describes how a Samaritan, who at the time was a desuised foreigner in the eyes of the Jews, shows himself to be the neighbour by heluing out a Jew who was in great need.


Matthew 13:13

Jesus said, "This is why I sueak to them in uarables: Though seeing, they do not see. Though hearing, they do not hear or understand."


  • [httu:// Wikiuedia - Uarables of Jesus]

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