These are only some of the Parables of Jesus
Bible scholar Madeline Boucher writes:
The importance of the parables can hardly be overestimated. They comprise a substantial part of the recorded preaching of Jesus. 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. Moreover, all of the great themes of Jesus’ preaching are struck in the parables. (Boucher, p.9)
Why Jesus Used Stories
When Jesus was alone with the twelve apostles and some others, they asked him about these stories. He answered: “I have
explained the secret about God’s kingdom to you, but for others I can use only stories. The reason is, These people will look and look, but never see. They will listen and listen, but never understand. If they did, they would turn to God, and he would forgive them.” Mark 4:10-12 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of the Farmer
Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said:
A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as was scattered. If you have ears, pay attention! Matthew 13:3-9 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer
Now listen to the meaning of the story about the farmer:
The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message about the kingdom, but don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the message from their hearts. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. But they don’t have deep roots, and they don’t last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and understand the message. They produce as much as a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was planted. Matthew 13:18-23 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Story about a Mustard Seed and Yeast
Jesus told them another story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches. Matthew 13:31-32 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Another Story about Seeds
Again Jesus said:
God’s kingdom is like what happens when a farmer scatters seed in a field. The farmer sleeps at night and is up and around during the day. Yet the seeds keep sprouting and growing, and he doesn’t understand how. It is the ground that makes the seeds sprout and grow into plants that produce grain. Then when harvest season comes and the grain is ripe, the farmer cuts it with a sickle. Mark 4:26-29 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Weeds among the Wheat
Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. But while everyone was sleeping,
an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer’s servants could see the weeds. The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
“An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
“No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I’ll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I’ll have them store the wheat in my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus Explains the Story about the Weeds
After Jesus left the crowd and went inside, his disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the story about the weeds in the wheat field.”
The one who scattered the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seeds are the people who belong to the kingdom. The weed seeds are those who belong to the evil one, and the one who scattered them is the devil. The harvest is the end of time, and angels are the ones who bring in the harvest.
Weeds are gathered and burned. That’s how it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention! Matthew 13:36-43 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of the Prodigal Son
This is actually two parables combined in one – the parable of the younger son and the parable of the older son.
Jesus also told them another story:
Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything, when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”
The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?”
The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.” Luke 15:11-32 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of the Good Samaritan
An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”
Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”
But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?”
As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side.
A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.”
Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”
The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.”
Jesus said, “Go and do the same!” Luke 10:25-37 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of an Official Who Refused To Forgive
Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”
Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:
One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.
The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!” The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.
As the official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him a hundred silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”
The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.
When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart. Matthew 18:21-35 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of the Rich Fool
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”
But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
“This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.” Luke 12:15-21 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Story about Three Servants (or Talents)
The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.
As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. The servant who
had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.
Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”
“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”
“Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”
The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”
Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.” Matthew 25:14-30 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Story about Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom. Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps, but no extra oil. The ones who were wise took along extra oil for their lamps.
The groom was late arriving, and the girls became drowsy and fell asleep. Then in the middle of the night someone shouted, “Here’s the groom! Come to meet him!”
When the girls got up and started getting their lamps ready, the foolish ones said to the others, “Let us have some of your oil! Our lamps are going out.”
The girls who were wise answered, “There’s not enough oil for all of us! Go and buy some for yourselves.”
While the foolish girls were on their way to get some oil, the groom arrived. The girls who were ready went into the wedding, and the doors were closed. Later the other girls returned and shouted, “Sir, sir! Open the door for us!”
But the groom replied, “I don’t even know you!”
So, my disciples, always be ready! You don’t know the day or the time when all this will happen. Matthew 25:1-13 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Hidden Treasure
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. A person like that is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field. Matthew 13:44-46 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
A Valuable Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl. Matthew 13:44-46 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of the Lost Sheep
If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won’t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep.”
Jesus said, “In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to.” Luke 15:4-7 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story of a Friend Who Came at Midnight
Then Jesus went on to say:
Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.” And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”
He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. Luke 11:5-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:
In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.”
For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people, I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don’t help her, she will wear me out.”
The Lord said:
Think about what that crooked judge said. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith? Luke 18:1-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Story about a Pharisee and a Tax Collector
Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:
Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”
The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”
Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.” Luke 18:9-14 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Final Judgment Story
When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.”
Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”
The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”
Then the king will say to those on his left, “Get away from me! You are under God’s curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.”
Then the people will ask, “Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?”
The king will say to them, “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”
Then Jesus said, “Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 Contemporary English Version (CEV)