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Author: Ron Graham


Parables of Jesus
—Their nature and main themes

A lengthy, comprehensive, and meaty series that could keep a weekly Bible class going for six months or more. The lessons show the nature of parables and their main themes, and cover just about every parable that Jesus told. Tap any title next to an arrow in the list below.

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Lessons on the Parables INDEX This series has its own more detailed table of contents.

Seven Themes in Christ's ParablesBefore we begin to study particular parables of Jesus, we familiarise ourselves with the general themes that run through them.

The Great MistakesAnother theme is evident in many of the parables, namely the great and terrible mistakes that people make.

What is a Parable and How do you Interpret it?Nathan's parable and three parables Jesus told, as examples of how parables should be interpreted.

Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?We look at the reason why Jesus often turned to parables to get his message across.

Parables - Stories For All PeoplesChrist's parables are part of his gospel and are therefore for all peoples throughout all nations throughout all time.

Parables in the Sermon on the MountMatthew 5-7 is rich in word pictures that we could regard as parables.

The Unforgiving SlaveThe Unforgiving Slave (Matthew 18:21-35) refused to forgive little though he was forgiven of much. Consequently his debt was reinstated. This parable illustrates both the goodness and severity of God

The Lost is FoundIn the parables of the Lost Sheep  Lost Coin and Lost Son (Luke 15:4-32), there was geat rejoicing when the lost was found. These parables illustrate the goodness of God.

The 99 Sheep Not Lost (Luke 15:4-7)In telling the parable of The Lost Sheep, Jesus leaves the other 99 sheep pretty much out of the picture. However, as well as the main story of the lost sheep, there are also three things true of the other 99 sheep that we can infer from the parable.

The God Who Cares and Answers PrayersThe parables of the Friends at Midnight and the Persistent Widow (Luke 11:5-13, Luke 18:1-8), further illustrate the compassion and kindness of God and show the need to seek it.

Seeking or Rejecting GraceThe parables of the Workers in the Vineyard and the Marriage of the King’s Son (Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 22:1-14) further illustrate God’s mercy and grace.

The Banquet ParablesThe parables of the Embarrassed Guest the Luncheon for the Poor and the Slighted Invitation (Luke 14:7-24) also show God’s goodness, but emphasise that we ought to respond with humility.

Invited and CompelledThe parable of the Slighted Invitation (Luke 14:16-24) is about people invited to a dinner. When they refused the invitation, other people were rounded up and compelled to attend. What is this saying about grace and choice?

Two builders, Two SonsThe parables of the Two Builders and the Two Sons (Matthew 7:24-27, Matthew 21:28-32) illustrate theme 3 of the parables, namely true obedience to God’s word, and not mere lipservice.

Bearing FruitThe parables of the Vine and the Branches, the Barren Fig Tree, and the Sower of Seed (John 15:1-6, Luke 13:6-9, Luke 8:5-15) illustrate theme 3 of the parables, namely obedience to God. These three parables highlight the need for fruitfulness.

Stewards of God’s GraceThe parables of the Talents, the Wicked Tenant Farmers, and the Unrighteous Steward (Matthew 25:14-30, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 16:1-13), also illustrate theme 3 of the parables, namely obedience to God. These three parables highlight the need for stewardship.

Seven Short Kingdom ParablesThe parables of the Hidden treasure, Pearl of Great Price, Yeast, Mustard seed, Household Treasures, Sprouting seed, and the Dragnet, (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 13) picture the very great value of the kingdom of God, and its universal nature.

The Parable of the TaresThe parable about the Tares in the Field (Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43) where good seed was sown concentrates on the last three themes of the parables. The kingdom is a spiritual and worldwide kingdom in which God’s people are recognised by their good hearts.

The Good SamaritanThe parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) also encompasses the last three themes, but particularly shows that God looks on the heart not the outward person, and God recognises justice, mercy, and kindness

Hearts AwryThe parables about the Two Debtors, the Pharisee and Tax Collector, and the Whited Tombs (Luke 7:36-47 Luke 18:9-14, Mtt23:27-28) illustrate how the Pharisees looked down upon others and promoted themselves as righteous, yet their own hearts lacked humility, justice, and love

Two Rich MenThe parables about the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21, Luke 16:19-31), illustrate the latter themes of the parables and also the great mistake of letting worldly riches prevent readiness for life after death

Empty House, Empty LampsThe parables of the Empty House and the Foolish Virgins (Matthew 12:43-45, Matthew 25:1-13) are about failure to respond to God’s kind invitation, to see the sin in oneself, and to get ready for judgment

Dividing the World In TwoThe parables of the Two Gates and the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 7:13-14, Matthew 25:31-46) show how we must choose now which of the two multitudes we will be among in eternity

The Sheepfold Parables (John 10)Parables that liken the kingdom of God to a sheepfold with Christ as the Shepherd.

Seven Themes in the Sheepfold ParablesWe continue to look at the sheepfold parables, and use them as a review of the seven themes in Christ's parables.

QUIZ on the ParablesHere's a Bible study quiz on the parables of Jesus. This quiz of 30 questions complements our lessons on the parables.


Webservant Ron Graham

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