The Parables of Jesus

A Parable on Prayer

“And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1

It’s no secret Jesus made prayer a priority in His life, but did you know John the Baptist did as well? It appears when the disciples saw Jesus praying, they were reminded of the numerous times they saw John praying, so one of them asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It was common for religious leaders to teach their followers how to pray. Prayer was and is the one of the greatest ways we can experience the power of God.

The Good Samaritan

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Right after Jesus praised the Father for hiding the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and revealing them to babes, a lawyer tested Jesus by asking him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus asked him what the law said about inheriting eternal life, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Clearly the lawyer knew the law. He studied the scriptures and knew the traditions, but he didn’t understand what it meant to love.

The Good Shepherd

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b

I can’t count the number of times I’ve quoted this verse. It means so much to me and I pray it means a lot to you. It’s in this verse that Jesus not only promises to give us eternal life, but also life more abundantly. One of the first images that comes to mind when reading this verse is what David wrote in Psalm 23:8, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” David experienced an overflowing cup in the presence of his enemies because the Lord was his Shepherd.

Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21

Peter knew forgiveness was a key characteristic of God that he was called to exemplify for others. Knowing the Pharisees taught that they should forgive an offender two times, Peter must have thought he was pretty spiritual when he suggested forgiving an offender seven times. I wonder how shocked he was when he heard Jesus say we are to forgive an offender up to seventy times seven?

Pieces of the Puzzle

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.’” Matthew 13:51

The question Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” can also be translated, “Have you rightly put all these things together?” As we’ve been going through the parables, we’ve learned the disciples didn’t understand everything Jesus taught them. The same can be said of Jesus’ disciples today. The reason many lack understanding is because it takes a great deal of time to put all the pieces of the parables together. To fully understand them you must take pieces of the Old Testament and fit them together with pieces of the New Testament.

The Parable of the Pearl

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that the had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Have you ever felt like a little piece of sand being tossed around a giant troubled sea? Well, that is because according to this parable, you are. You are a little piece of sand, but the good news is that you are being changed into a precious pearl.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

It is important to take note that the last three parables Jesus shared are different from the first four parables He shared. The first four parables were given to the multitude while the last three parables were only given to the disciples. This means the final three parables are meant to bless those who believe in Jesus because they reveal what He is doing through the church during the period between His first and second coming. The first four parables spoke of corruption in the kingdom of God, but the last three parables speak of how highly Jesus values the people of His kingdom.

The Parable of the Leaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Last week I stated that the parable of the mustard seed is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. Well, I may have misspoke. I believe the parable of the leaven may be even more misunderstood. There seem to be two main opposing views of this parable. One view is that the leaven is a symbol of good, teaching that the gospel will permeate the entire earth until every human is saved. The other view is the opposite. It teaches that the leaven is a symbol of evil. Obviously, both interpretations cannot be correct. So, which one is correct?

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31-32

Without a doubt this is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. If you want to learn why, you will need to join us Wednesday night as we look deeper into this scripture. In the meantime, I would like to tantalize your taste buds by sharing one lesson of faith I believe is found in this parable.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

“But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest…’” Matthew 13:29-30a

When Jesus shared the parable of the wheat and the tares with his disciples, He told them there was both good seed (wheat) and bad seed (tares) planted in the kingdom of heaven. What are tares? Today we might call them “darnel”. Darnel grows side by side with wheat and the similarities between them is so great that in some regions darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. In fact, you cannot tell the difference between wheat and darnel until the ear of the wheat appears.

The Parable of the Sower

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower.” Matthew 13:18

The parable of the sower is a very profound parable that is certain to compel the listener to ask, “What kind of soil am I? How can I prepare my heart and mind to be the right kind of soil?” In this parable, Jesus shares about four different types of soil. The four soils represent four classes of hearers, each with a different response to the Word of God. The most important part of the parable is understanding that the soils represent the human heart.

The Parables of Jesus

“And He spoke many things to them in parables.” Matthew 13:3a

Have you ever wondered what the mission of the church is? There seems to be no end to the number of books written and conferences given on the subject of the mission of the church. Every sort of program and principle that you can imagine has been studied or scrutinized. Yet with all the study and concern about the mission of the church, it seems more than any other time in history we lack understanding of what the mission of the church truly is.