Much of Jesus’ teaching was through parables, which he utilized as a method of illustrating insightful and divine truths. Biblical scholar Madeleine Boucher informs audiences that “the importance of the parables can hardly be overestimated (Boucher, 1977).” Rather than representing simple anecdotes, each parable displays a deeper meaning. Comprehending the Gospel Parables requires an understanding of the definition of a parables, Jesus’ reason for speaking in parables, and the purpose of parables.
The parables of Jesus are mainly found in the three Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Boucher writes, “The parables are generally regarded by scholars as among the sayings which we can confidently ascribe to the historical Jesus; they are, for the most part, authentic words of Jesus (Boucher, 1977).” Representing a key part the teachings of Jesus, it is estimated that they form approximately one third of his recorded teachings (Wiersbe, 1982). A common belief is that Jesus spoke in parables so that his audience might better grasp the point behind his message. According to Matthew 13:10-7, however, he did not expect everyone to comprehend them. In Matthew 13:10, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak in parables?” He replied to them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables (The Holy Bible: New International Version, 1986).” His reason for this being, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven(The Holy Bible: New International Version, 1986).” He spoke to them in parables because of the hardness of their hearts. Through this, “Jesus effectively separated the truth-seekers from the curiosity-seekers (McKeehan, 2007).”
Mainly narratives, the parables of the gospels all have a beginning, middle, and conclusion with characters, settings, and occasional dialogue (Getty-Sullivan, 2007). Vivid, but not detailed, each parable has “an element of surprise, a hook, designed to present something new and different to the listeners (Getty-Sullivan, 2007).” Biblical scholar, Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan states that this hook has often been called “the ‘twist’ or ‘gotcha’ aspect of a parable. People might be either attracted to or put off by this element of surprise, but a good parable does not leave its listeners indifferent.” Each parable should capture its audience’s attention, leaving them with a desire for transformation.
The world parable, meaning “to place beside, to cast alongside,” is used 48 times in the first three Gospels, twice in Hebrews verses 9:9 and 11:19 . A parable is often thought of as an extended simile; therefore, comparing the point of commonality between two unlike things to demonstrate and teach that point. According to C.H. Dodd, “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or...