Jesus Parables – What is a Parable?
Jesus’ parables are recorded in the Bible for us to read and study. A parable is a fictional illustration, often comparing a spiritual truth with an object. Parables were a common way of teaching in Judaism, so the people of that time were familiar with their use.
Jesus used parables to keep certain truth hidden from the listeners who cared more about entertainment than they did about learning about who Jesus was. Those who understood Jesus’ purpose, could discern the truth behind Jesus’ parables. This means that not everyone understood Jesus’ message through these parables.
Jesus Parables – Examples of Parables
Jesus often used common household items to explain spiritual truths – salt, bread, sheep, etc.
“He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough’" (Matthew 13:33).
"’Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’" (Luke 15:8-10).
“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9).
“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent’” (Luke 15:3-7).
Jesus Parables – Why did Jesus speak in parables?
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Jesus used parables to hide these truths from temporary listeners who cared more about entertainment than salvation. Only the spiritually awakened understood the truth behind the story. As a result, most listeners did not comprehend Jesus’ message. He explained it in Matthew 13:
”The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:’
"’Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’”
“'For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it’” (Matthew 13:10-17).
Jesus Parables: Key References to Explore
- Matthew 13
- Luke 15
- Matthew 22
- Matthew 7