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Understanding Jesus and His Teaching: An Overview of Parables

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1 Understanding Jesus and His Teaching: An Overview of Parables
Logos Bible Fellowship 8/1/2007

2 Intro to Parables What is a Parable
Was Jesus the First to Use Parables? How did Jesus Use Parables? Why did Jesus Use Parables? How Should We Interpret Parables? What Themes are in Parables?

3 What is a Parable? A short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth A figure of speech in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences A parable is often no more than an extended metaphor or simile, using figurative language in the form of a story to illustrate a particular truth

4 What is a Parable? The Greek word for “parable” literally means “a laying by the side of” or “a casting alongside,” thus “a comparison or likeness.” In a parable something is placed alongside something else, in order that one may throw light on the other by drawing from experience. A familiar custom or incident is used to illustrate some truth less familiar.

5 What is a Parable? There is a universal law that the spiritual is patterned after the natural (1 Corinthians 15:44-46). So, if we can understand the natural things, we will also be able to understand the spiritual (John 3:12). The entire purpose of Jesus’ parables was to use natural situations to explain spiritual ones through a unifying principle. Thus, the spiritual and natural go hand in hand. Jesus’ point is spiritual, and His illustrations are natural, but the principles He speaks of are true in both the spiritual and natural realms.

6 Group Discussion #1 Why would Jesus want to use parables?
What are some dangers in separating spiritual and natural truths?

7 Was Jesus the First to Use Parables?
Although Jesus was the master of the parabolic form, He was not the first to use parables Examples of the effective use of parables are found in the Old Testament. By means of the parable in 2 Sam. 12:1–15, Nathan reproved King David and convicted him of his sin of committing adultery with Bathsheba.

8 How Did Jesus Use Parables?
Jesus’ characteristic method of teaching was through parables. His two most famous parables are the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32) and the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). Some entire chapters in the Gospels are devoted to Jesus’ parables; for instance, Matthew 13 — which contains the parables of the sower (vv. 1–23), the wheat and the tares (vv. 24–30), the mustard seed (vv. 31–32), the leaven (vv. 33), the hidden treasure (v. 44), the pearl of great price (vv. 45–46), and the dragnet (vv. 47–52).

9 How Did Jesus Use Parables?
Although parables are often memorable stories, impressing the listener with a clear picture of the truth, even the disciples were sometimes confused as to the meaning of parables. For instance, after Jesus told the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24–30), the disciples needed interpretation in order to understand its meaning (Matt. 13:36–43).

10 Why Did Jesus Use Parables?
Jesus sometimes used the parabolic form of teaching to reveal the truth to those who followed Him and to conceal the truth from those who did not (Matt. 13:10–17; Mark 4:10–12; Luke 8:9–10). His parables thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9–10. Like a double-edged sword, they cut two ways—enlightening those who sought the truth and blinding those who were disobedient.

11 How Should We Interpret Parables?
Most of Jesus’ parables have one central point. Thus, Bible students should not resort to fanciful interpretations that find “spiritual truth” in every minute detail of the parable. In finding the central meaning of a parable, the Bible student needs to discover the meaning the parable had in the time of Jesus. We need to relate the parable to Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God and to His miracles. This means that parables are more than simple folk stories; they are expressions of Jesus’ view of God, people, salvation, and the new age that dawned in His ministry. Don’t use parables to formulate new doctrine

12 What Themes are in Parables?
The general theme is “the kingdom of heaven” A major theme in Jesus’ parables is the demand of following Him in authentic discipleship. In the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:15–24), Jesus showed that the time for decision is now. In the parable of the unfinished tower and the king going to war (Luke 14:28–32), Jesus demanded that His followers be prepared to give up all. In the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:44–46), Jesus stated that the kingdom of heaven is of such value that all other treasures in life are of secondary worth. Jesus’ parables are a call to a radical decision to follow Him.

13 Group Discussion #2 Why did Jesus use parables to conceal truth from those who chose not to follow Him? How do parables help us know how to read and interpret the Bible? What is authentic discipleship? Jesus was asking for a radical decision to follow Him. Have you made that decision?

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