The Parable

We began a series yesterday about the parables of Jesus and we will be looking at 5 specific teachings of Jesus where he used a parable to illustrate a truth. There are many ways to use language effectively and Jesus used a number of common figures of speech as he preached to the crowds that gathered to hear him speak.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. That is, a metaphor is language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects. For example, “You are my sunshine.”
An analogy is the inference that if two things agree with each other in some respects, they will probably agree in others. For example, “shells were to ancient cultures as dollar bills are to modern culture.” An analogy is often used to make a difficult idea or an archaic subject easier to understand.
An allegory is it is similar a metaphor or an analogy but it is generally longer and more detailed than a metaphor, and appeals to imagination, while an analogy appeals to reason or logic. An allegory can be quite long and complex.
The word parable comes from the Greek parabolē, meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy.” It was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to an illustration in the form of a brief fictional narrative. Parables often utilize many forms of speech with the purpose of highlighting one or two important implications. Jesus’ use of parables illustrated many spiritual truths and made them accessible to non-religious people.
Jesus did not invent the parable, there are many parables, allegories, and analogies in the Old Testament. For example, there are 12 parables in 7 different books.
But Jesus used parables far more than any of the Old Testament authors. By some counts, there are 46 parables recorded in the New Testament gospels but as John’s gospel tells us “many other things Jesus taught that were not recorded, for if they were the books could not contain them.”
It was the practice of Jesus to teach the crowds with parables. Often the disciples would come privately and ask Jesus to explain the meaning of these parables because they did not fully understand the meaning or significance of the message contained in the teaching. Jesus was always willing to explain these truths to his people.
It is our prayer that as we look at these five parables in this series that we too will find the meaning and significance to our own lives today.
Prayer: Open our eyes to the truth of your word as we study these parables of Jesus.