The first four books of the New Testament have something very important in common. Jesus. Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all wrote about the Christ, from His birth through His death, resurrection, and ascension. All four books share the various parables told by Jesus.
What is a parable? According to Webster’s dictionary, a parable is usually a short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.
Its origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin parabola, from Greek parabolē comparison, from paraballein to compare, from para- + ballein to throw. First Known Use of the word parable: 14th century.
Dictionary.com defines it as a short, allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
Jesus told stories to make a point. He hid facts of life in the midst of the stories. To some, He knew they would just be stories; entertainment. To others, they would speak life. It was to these “others” He spoke. Why? He answers this question in Matthew 13:11-13 (KJV).
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.’
Still, the disciples asked Jesus several times to explain the meaning of a parable he’d told. It was apparent by his answer, he’d expected them to “get” his meaning, as in Mark 4:13. “And He said to them, Do you not discern and understand this parable? How then is it possible for you to discern and understand all the parables?” (Amp)
Jesus spoke to shepherds, farmers, tax collectors, and rulers, among others. He used illustrations they would understand. A shepherd could easily identify with the one lost sheep. Shut up all those you have and once you’ve made them secure, go out and search for the one that is lost. Yes, they understood the principle, but did they go a step further and perceive that He spoke of people? Leave those who believe and go out and find the one who does not.
Of all the parables Jesus told, my favorite is the prodigal son, found in Luke 15: 11-32 (my link here will take you to The Message version). This passage offers hope to those who have made mistakes. Forgiveness is available for you, no matter how deeply mired in sin you become.
As writers, we can also bury messages in our stories. I’ve seen this done well by some very talented writers. As fishers of men, Christian writers should study Christ’s method and emulate it. I encourage you to perfect your craft. If the bait looks fake, the fish won’t bite.
Do you have a favorite parable? Please take a minute to share it with us and while you’re at it, try your hand at today’s prompt. There’s a $10 gift card out there for someone to win!
Prompt: Lucy’s mother was concerned that her daughter was eating too much. The six-year-old had been sneaking extra food into her lunch box when she thought her mother wasn’t looking. Then a regular parent-teacher conference revealed the truth.
For extra reading about parables: http://www.lifeofchrist.com/teachings/parables/default.asp