During his ministry Jesus would attract large crowds to hear Him teach. The vast majority of these people were poor, uneducated and illiterate. To illustrate a point, Jesus would use a parable, which is, simply put, a short story to help the listener understand a greater meaning.
Jesus did not give them theological concepts, scholarly dissertations or any deep intellectual thought. He told stories to make his message simple to understand. However, His parables were deeply theological, intellectual and have been studied in seminaries for centuries.
Why it matters
Parables help people understand important concepts. While it is good to learn versus of the Bible, it is more important to learn and understand the greater meaning of its passages. Jesus used the parables to bring home a much larger point.
Therefore, Jesus’ use of parables was a well-planned and necessary strategy to connect with the common people. Some of the parables were also a triggering point for confrontations with the religious elite.
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables.
Why it matters to you
The meaning behind the message is where the real “gold” of the Bible is found. Regardless of intellect or educational achievement, even the best and brightest may not fully grasp the significance of one of these parables.
While others may nod their heads in agreement and enjoy the story, those who truly understand why it is being told and how it applies to their life, reap the most benefit.
The disciples lived and traveled with Jesus, and every day had access to his teaching, yet they did not fully understand what He was doing, or why. They asked Him directly why He spoke in parables. Jesus explained that the people did not know what they knew.
The disciples were learning from Him daily and were able to explore the deeper meaning of things, but Jesus had to get his point across to the crows quickly and effectively. The stories helped.
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Gospel of Matthew
The Parable of the Sower (Mt13:3-8), The Parable of the Weeds (Mt 13:24-30), The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13:31-32), The Parable of the Yeast (Mt 13:33), The Parable the Pearl (Mt 13:47-50), The Parable of the Fishing Net (Mt 13:47-50), The Parable of the Two Sons (Mt 21:28-31), The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Mt 22:1-14), The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-13).
Gospel of Mark
The Strong Man (Mk 3:23-27), The Parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3-8), The Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself (Mk 4:26-29), The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk 12:1-9), The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mk 13:28-31)
Gospel of Luke
The Parable of the Patch (Lk36-39), The parable of the Sower (Lk 8:5-8), The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37), The Parable of the Rich Fool (Lk 12:16-21), The Parable of the Faithful Servant (Lk 12:35-48), The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Lk 13:18-19), The Parable of the Leven (Lk 13:20-21), TheParable of the Great Banquet (Lk 14:16-24),
The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:4-7), The Parable of the Lost Coin(Lk 15: 8-10), The Parable of the Lost Son (Lk 15:11-32),The Parable of the Shrewed Manager (Lk16:1-13), The Parable of the Persistant Widow (Lk 18:1-8), The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk18:9-14), The Parable of the Ten Minas (Lk 19:12-27), The Parable of the Tenants (Lk 20:9-16)
What you may not know
Parables are just stories to illustrate a point and do not point to a particular person, time or place. When Jesus tells of a specific person, with a name, that is not a story, but a true account of a real person.
For example, in Like 16, Jesus talks about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. He names Lazarus. It is not a parable.