An Introduction to the Parables of Christ Sunday 12th January 2014
A dull pencil is better than a sharp mind • The average person remembers 30% of what they hear; • Therefore, bring a writing pad and pen or use your Electronic device to make your own notes; • The process helps us to:- • Participate; recall and own the material.
Prologue • Teaching by parables was not new but was in line with a long tradition going back Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. • In Israel, parables were uttered by prophets and wise women and men. They appear even in the oldest books of the Old Testament. Parables were often used by Jewish rabbis who were contemporaries of Jesus.
The parable of Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:1-4). • After the king had arranged the death of Bathsheba's husband on the battlefield so that he might himself marry Bathsheba, Nathan told him this story:- • There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.
The parable of Nathan, continued • Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one from his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.On hearing the story King David condemned the man who had done this as deserving to die, Nathan revealed that the story was a parable, saying, "You are the man"
Other Old testament parables • 2 Samuel 14:5-l3; • I Kings 20:39-42; • Isaiah 5:1-7; 28:2129; • Ezekiel 17:1-24; 19:1-14; 20:45-49; 24:3-14.
Teaching by parables • Parables were spoken to make it simple to understand important concepts, ideas and lessons. • A parable is not a proverb which one has to decipher or interpret. A proverb is a wise saying with a hidden meaning or message.
An example of a proverb • An example of a proverb or riddle is the one given by Samson concerning the dead lion and the honey. Judges 14:14 KJV •  And he (Samson) said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
Understanding a parable • It is possible to conceal a message in a parable, but its purpose is to teach; to give understanding to communicate lessons in a simple way. • A parable must therefore be understood within: 1) its context, 2) community of people and 3) It draws upon well understood words and sayings. • One must remember that parables were used because the ordinary person was illiterate and unlearned:- 1) Illiterate unable to read and write; 2) Not educated;
Within the context of cricket what do these phrases mean? 1) The batsman hit the ball down the fielder’s throat; 2) The ball went to gulley; 3) The fielder is at square leg or fine leg;
Community of people again within the context of cricket, examples. 1) The spirit of the game; 2) The opposition applauding the batsman on reaching 100; 3) The bowler who took most of the wickets leading his team off the field of play at the end of a day's play; • None of these are laws or rules but they have become part of the culture of the cricket community.
Parables • Parables draw upon well understood words and phrases as well as acting in a certain manner, again in cricket: • 1) Everyday language that cricketers and followers of cricket would understand. They are laws and rules used in everyday conversation that mean something to players, officials, supporters etc. However, they are also words which are not laws or rules but are simply phrases, sayings, maxims, proverbs etc.
Parables Examples of the use of a common language and cricket • No ball, a rule; • Over, another rule; • Sledging, not a rule in fact is frowned upon by officials and the public; Applauding a batsman who is coming into bat could be: A) Respect and appreciation for the player; B) Mock the player, i.e. sarcasm for the player is not very good; C) A way of encouraging the player who is afraid; who is not very good but is well liked.
Biblical examples of a parable which brings out these points: The parable of the good seeds and the tares:- • The farming community would know the symbolisms; • The language is simple enough to understand; • The meaning would also be understood; • The problem though is to understandthe spiritual meaning; this then brings us to the definition of a parable: an earthly story with a spiritual or heavenly meaning.
Matthew 13:10-11 KJV •  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. …
Interpretation of a parable • The words of a parable must not be taken as literal they must be interpreted. • For parables use various types of figures of speech for example:- • Metaphor • Simile • Hyperbole • Sarcasm
A Figure of speech • A Figure of speech is a linguistic tool humans use to give emphasis, make comparison, give contrast to, humiliate, laugh at and give high praise. • Jesus' parables are seemingly simple and memorable stories, often with imagery, and all convey messages. • Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. • Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well.
Christ’s use of parables • Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus. • Jesus loved to use illustrations to reach the heart of his listeners through their imagination. These word-pictures challenged the mind to discover anew what God is like and moved the heart to make a response to God's love and truth. • Like a skilful artist, Jesus painted lively pictures with short and simple words. • A good picture can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. • Jesus used the ordinary everyday to point to another order of reality – hidden, yet visible to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”.
Christ’s use of parables, contd. • Jesus communicated with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract presentation could. • His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matthew 13:44). • The spiritual see the parables as messages that convey deep lessons which are central to the teachings of Jesus. • The spiritual view them not as mere similitude which serve the purpose of illustration, but as internal analogies where nature becomes a witness for the spiritual world.
The parables of Christ • Many of Jesus' parables refer to simple everyday things, such as a woman baking bread (parable of the Leaven); • A man knocking on his neighbour’s door at night (parable of the Friend at Night), • Or the aftermath of a roadside robbery (parable of the Good Samaritan); • Yet they deal with major spiritual themes, such as the growth of the Kingdom of God but not according to the will of God. (The parable of the herb plant that grows into a huge tree). • Parables that deals with the importance of prayer, its persistence and the importance of good relationship;
The parables of Christ, contd. • In the parable of the Good Samaritan the meaning of love is the lesson and it deals with the subject of who is my neighbour. Thus making it clear that to love thy neighbour as thyself requires going beyond one's kith and kin, church family and to the stranger.
Why did Jesus teach by the use of Parables? • Matthew 13:10-17; and 13: 34-36. • Also, Messiah would teach in Parables (Psalms 78:1-6). • Jesus told his disciples that not everyone would understand his parables. “To you it has been given to know the secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear” (Luke 8:10).
Conclusion • The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answer, then we, too, may look but not see, listen but not hear or understand. • When reading the parables it is important to not get bogged down in the details of the story. The main point is what counts. • Very often the details are clear enough, but some are obscure (for example, why would a rich man allow his dishonest steward to take care of his inventory; see Luke 16:1-8).
Conclusion, contd. • A storyteller doesn't have to make every detail fit perfectly. Each parable will typically present a single point. • Look for the main point and don't get bogged down in the details. • In addition, Jesus often throws in a surprise or unexpected twist. These challenge the hearer and invite us to reflect. • Jesus meant for his parables to provoke a response. If we listen with faith and humility then each will understand as he or she is able to receive what Jesus wishes to speak to each of our hearts.
Conclusion, contd. • A storyteller doesn't have to make every detail fit perfectly. Each parable will typically present a single point. (There is great danger in this approach). • Look for the main point and don't get bogged down in the details. • In addition, Jesus often throws in a surprise or unexpected twist. These challenge the hearer and invite us to reflect. • Jesus meant for his parables to provoke a response. If we listen with faith and humility then each will understand as he or she is able to receive what Jesus wishes to speak to each of our hearts.
Next Week • we shall examine the parable of: The Sower • Matthew 13:1-23, the teacher will be Pastor Alverlis Wilson • Please read the lesson and come ready to share the understanding and application of the word.