Jesus used parables — simple stories that illustrate larger truths — as bridges, leading His hearers down a familiar road from where they were to where He wanted them to be. Parables move from the known to the unknown, from concrete facts to abstract truths, from the seen to the unseen, from the earthly to heavenly.
I should study Christ’s parables and understand them, for through them Jesus reveals essential truths with lasting impressions.
God speaks to me in parables
Hear my teaching, my people. Turn your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings of old.
Jesus teaches using parables
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. Without a parable he didn’t speak to them; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Prophetic parables deliver Godly warnings
I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied visions; and by the ministry of the prophets I have used parables.
Parable of New Cloth and New Wine: Truth versus traditionalism; the danger of preconceived opinions
He also told a parable to them. “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old garment, or else he will tear the new, and also the piece from the new will not match the old. No one puts new wine into old wine skins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved. No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Parable of the Watchful Servant: Watching for the master’s return
“It is like a man, traveling to another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, and to each one his work, and also commanded the doorkeeper to keep watch. Watch therefore, for you don’t know when the lord of the house is coming, whether at evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he might find you sleeping. What I tell you, I tell all: Watch.”
Parable of the Lost Coin: God’s love for those who don’t know they are lost; diligence in seeking the lost
Or what woman, if she had ten drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn’t light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.’ Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting.
Parable of Hidden Treasure: The transcendent value of truth and the effort necessary to secure it
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Parable of the Rich Fool: The danger of worldly-mindedness; the folly of living for material things
He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man produced abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do, because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Parable of the Friend at Midnight: Perseverance in intercessory prayer
He said to them, “Which of you, if you go to a friend at midnight, and tell him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him,’ and he from within will answer and say, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give it to you’? I tell you, although he will not rise and give it to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as many as he needs. “I tell you, keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.”
Parable about Wise and Foolish Builders: The folly of knowledge without obedience
Everyone who comes to me, and hears my words, and does them, I will show you who he is like. He is like a man building a house, who dug and went deep, and laid a foundation on the rock. When a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it was founded on the rock. But he who hears, and doesn’t do, is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.