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I have not come across a better story teller the Jesus. Jesus spoke in parables Mat 13:34. Who does not like a good story, I pay rapt attention when a story is told and I’m sure if I was present with Jesus I would be drawn into the story. Nevertheless He has left us with many stories in other words parables.

Jesus told many parables; in fact, at least for a time in His ministry, Jesus relied heavily on story-telling:

Some fun facts

The word parable/(s) appears 47 times in the gospel.

Biblical scholars state that 1/3 of what Jesus spoke was in parable

How many parables are there? The answer could range from 36 to 300 depends how you count it.

So the question before each one of us is what is a parable?

A parable is a story told to illustrate a truth. Jesus’ parables were teaching aids and can be thought of as extended analogies, comparing two things or ideas.

A common description of a parable is that it is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. A short simple story of common life that conveys a spiritual truth.

I need to remember that Jesus did not use the classical Greek language of the scholar. He spoke in Aramaic. He told stories using the street language of that day and talked of birds, flowers, lost coins, fields, pearl, vineyard, wheat, farmer and other everyday objects that anyone could relate to.

Salient features of a story are:

  1. Stories hold our attention.The reason television became so popular is because it’s essentially a story-telling device, whether you’re watching comedy, drama, the news, or a talk show. Even the commercials are stories, do you remember one which has stuck with you.
  2. Stories stir our emotions.They impact us in ways that precepts and propositions never do. If you want to change lives, you must craft the message for impact, not for information.
  3. Stories help us remember.Is it not true that long after the sermon is forgotten, people will remember the stories of that sermon.

 So the question I ask myself is why did Jesus speak in parables? Some of the reasons are:

  1. To fulfil prophecy/(ies): Scriptures in Matt 13:34-35 states Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and he did not speak other than parables and He did so to fulfil which was spoken by the prophet Asaph. Approximately 1,000 years before Jesus came, the Psalmist Asaph predicted He would preach in parables (Ps. 78:1-3). Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about His life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection including this one.
  2. To reveal truth: The disciples too had the same question as to why did Jesus speak in parable. And Jesus’s response is contained in Matt. 13:10-11. The mysteries of the kingdom are contained in the parables of the kingdom (secrets hidden from the foundation of the world). Parables open our eyes to deeper insights into Christ and His kingdom and give us a greater glimpse into the spiritual realm. Parables are in fact a Pearl of great price Matt. 13:44. Parables have an element of mystery, leading the listener to meditate on them to grasp their meaning.
  3. To conceal truth: Not everyone was intended to understand Christ’s message. He skilfully used parables to throw curve balls and confuse those who were not open to truth. Parables have a unique way of hiding the light from those who love darkness. The casual listener is left stumped, hearing the story but failing to grasp the underlying truths they conveyed. (Matt. 13:13-14).
  4. To illustrate truth: Parables provide examples of how truth applies to everyday life. When a scribe asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-36). In it, Jesus redefined the term “neighbor” as any person of any race who is in need, not just a person who lives nearby, and He showed how true neighbors treat others. This was unheard by the Jews of His time. To Persistence in prayer is illustrated in another parable of the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Lk. 18:1-8). The point is if persistence pays with a crooked judge who has no interest in your case, how much more so with the just Judge (God) who has a supreme interest in your case.
  5. To make truth relevant and practical: The reason “the common people heard Jesus gladly”  brought complex, spiritual truth down to their level by using terms they could easily relate to. He spoke their lingo when He compared God’s kingdom to farming, fishing, cooking, shepherding, and agriculture. The parable of the sower from Matt. 13

Around 25% of the Bible is comprised of precepts, laws, and raw truths. The other 75% consists of stories of real people that demonstrate how truth applies to real-life, every-day situations. The stories in the Bible have been preserved for our instruction and inspiration. (1 Cor. 10:11).

  1. To captivate people’s attention: Jesus avoided dry, dull sermons on the nuances of the law. Instead, He told interesting stories that captured people’s attention and imagination. People were “astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mk. 1:22). When soldiers were sent to arrest Him, they returned empty handed and said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (Jn. 7:46). Jesus conveyed His message in a way that fascinated His followers and confounded His critics.
  2. To enable His audience to retain His message: It’s much easier to remember a story than facts and data. Statistics show that people only remember about 10-20% of what they hear, but about 30-40% of what they hear and see. Parables create mental pictures that help us retain their message. Jesus’ parables are still with us 2,000 years later because people could recall and record them in detail for our benefit. Great sermons are not the ones with the most information, but the ones people remember months later.
  3. To expose His enemies’ wrong motives: He used the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Lu. 16:14-15) to expose their greed and apathy for the poor. The sin of self-righteousness was tackled in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Lu. 18:9-14) In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lu. 15:1-3, 25-32), Jesus included the “older brother” to rebuke the Pharisees for their holier-than-thou attitude toward sinners.

Therefore, I’m going to begin a journey of trying to see what the Lord is trying to teach me through His parables. I would welcome you to explore the parables and enrich yourself with these spiritual nuggets. Till then God Bless.

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