Jesus was a brilliant teacher and he sometimes taught in parables – stories with an inner spiritual meaning (1), “earthly stories with heavenly meanings” (2). Most of the stories are rooted in the everyday life of his listeners; for example, sowing seeds, lost animals, hiring workers and wedding parties (3). Thus Jesus started with the known and familiar and led his listeners to the new and unfamiliar. The vivid and interesting details make the messages all the more memorable.

The parables of Jesus are also important for another reason: “An observation of the details and relationships of common life and an appreciation of their significance is revealed that is unparalleled. We gain an insight into the inner life of Jesus Himself, as well as into His teaching, that is afforded by hardly any other portions of the Gospels (4).

The first parables in this section are The Good Samaritan,The dishonest manager (unjust steward)The Pharisee and the tax-collector, The unmerciful debtor, The labourers in the vineyard.  See also in short talks for Advent: Four Parables of Judgement -  The talents, The ten bridesmaids, The weeds in the field and The wicked tenants. 



1. Walsham How, W. (1910) The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Four Gospels, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

2. McGrath, A. (2006) The New Lion Handbook Christian Belief, Oxford: Lion Hudson plc.

3. McGrath, A. (2006) The New Lion Handbook Christian Belief, Oxford: Lion Hudson plc.

4. Moulton, W.J. (1927) ‘Parable’ in Hastings, D.D. (ed) A dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, Vol II, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, p.317.