The Purpose of Parables

Jesus used parables to teach a truth or to answer a question. He used real-life situations in His stories to connect with His audience. A lawyer once stood tempting Jesus and asked Him: “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus then asked: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (v. 36). The answer was evident in the related story, but it caused the listeners to consider and think for themselves. It elicited truth from those who otherwise might have rejected a declarative statement.

The parables of Christ often reveal the truth in a way that a simple declaration would not. Those who have honest, seeking hearts will hear and understand. The telling of parables is a way to convey and reveal truth in ways easy to be understood as in the above illustration.

Other parables that Jesus told were presented in such a way as to conceal truth from those who were choosing to walk in darkness. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10-13). The unbeliever may incorrectly understand the primary point of a parable, as it is hidden to those who “hear not.” It was not uncommon for the disciples to return to Christ and ask for a more in-depth explanation of a parable.

Parables are easy to recall for their detailed imagery and hence are useful to remember spiritual truths. They were and remain vital to the preservation of truth for people of all cultures and backgrounds. ■

Preaching Illustrations

Modern illustrations and life stories are valuable in relating truth to an audience. Illustrations can engage the people and make truth relevant in the light of current situations and culture. However, while sharing stories to bring a point can be an important tool in the arsenal of the preacher, the minister of Christ must not become an entertainer or a comedian. Our job is to preach the Word of God. If a story helps, then use it, but do not let the storytelling take precedence over the truth itself.

It is also important when sharing an illustration not to try to make something an issue of truth because it “fits” your example or story. Many a preacher in using an illustration has erred in getting the role of truth and illustration reversed. Something is truth because of the Word of God, not because we tell an engaging story from which we create a truth. ■

Parables of Jesus

“And He spake a parable unto them saying…”

 

 

Selected Stories & Illustrations

A Portrait of Christ

The Gospel of John is focused on giving us a clear image of Jesus, His character, and His nature. There are nine metaphors (figures of speech or illustrations) in John used to describe Jesus.

  1. I AM the Bread of Life/Living Bread—John 6:35, 48, 51.
  2. I AM the Light of the World—John 8:12; 9:5.
  3. Before Abraham was, I AM—John 8:58.
  4. I AM the Door—John 10:7, 9.
  5. I AM the Good Shepherd—John 10:11, 14.
  6. I AM the Resurrection and the Life—John 11:25.
  7. I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life—John 14:6.
  8. I AM the True Vine—John 15:1, 5.
  9. I AM He—John 18:5-6.

The Trial of Your Faith

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).

If we walk close to God, we shall find that in the midst of our trials, even when they are bitter, there is an undercurrent of sweet joyfulness way down in the depths of our souls. The consciousness that we are the Lord’s, that He loves us and that He is our Helper, will be sweet in the midst of all our woes. This may sometimes be obscured by doubts and fears for a time; but if we hide away under His wings and trust se­curely, the harp of joy will sound in our souls though in the tumult of emotions. We may sometimes have to listen carefully, however, to hear the soft, sweet strains of its melody.

Be patient in your trials; endure hardness as a good soldier; keep up the shield of faith: fight the good fight. In due season your soul will sing tri­umphant songs of victory, and the joy-bells, pealing out their merry music, will summon God’s people to rejoice with you in your Lord and Savior.

“Heart Talks” by C. W. Naylor

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