Describe from Luke's Gospel, how Jesus presented his teachings through parables.

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Victoria Adewole

Religious Studies Coursework 2001

Christianity Through a Study of Luke and Acts: Coursework Title 4

Paper 1

A) i) Explain the term ‘parable’

The word ‘parable’ comes from the Greek word ‘parabole’, meaning a comparison or analogy. A parable has also been described as ‘an earthly story with a heavenly meaning’. Some of Jesus’ parables are comparisons as they compare what is known and familiar on earth with the Kingdom of God, which is spiritual and less familiar. For example, in a parable in Luke 13:20 Jesus says ‘The Kingdom of God is like…a woman who takes some yeast.’ In this way, from the Bible, one can deduce parables are stories that convey teaching and is usually based on everyday life. A parable usually has one key teaching that the listener has to work out, which is why Jesus often used them in His teaching.

ii) Describe from Luke’s Gospel, how Jesus presented his teachings through parables.

Jesus often used has parables in His teaching and 90% of His teaching recorded in Luke are in the form of parables. At one stage, it was said of Jesus, ‘He would not speak to them without using parables’. He used parables to convey his teachings because people liked to listen to stories, and so, were attentive when he preached. Parables are also memorable and He wanted His listeners to remember the teachings behind the stories and provoke a response from them. This encouraged them to think for themselves and once they had worked out the meaning, they were more likely to remember it. Parables were easy for ordinary people to understand as they related to things that were familiar in everyday life, and it is because of this that Jesus used them to portray things less familiar in the spiritual world and in the relationship between God and man. They were also used to answer those who confronted Jesus; as different people were in conflict with Him, especially the religious people, such as Pharisees, because they did not agree with what he taught, He responded to them with a story. It is in such a case that Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, in Luke 15:1-7.

Parables were useful in the teachings and ministry of Jesus for the spiritual truths they portrayed, were, and still are, essential in establishing Jesus as Messiah and the Kingdom of God on earth. Each of the parables in Luke’s gospel conveyed something about God’s Kingdom, for example, the parable of the Sower in Luke 8:4-15 where Jesus uses the image of a Sower scattering seed on four different types of soil or land; on the path, on rocking ground, among the thorn bushes and on good soil. He then goes on to explain to the crowds what seeds and each of the types of land represents. “The seed is the word of God. The seed that feel along the path [and eaten by birds] stands for those who hear; but the Devil comes and takes the message away from their hearts in order to keep them from believing and being saved. The seed that fell on rocking land [and when the plants sprouted, they dried up because the soil had no moisture] stand for those who hear the message and receive it gladly. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time for testing comes the fall away. The seed that fell among the bushes stand for those who hear; but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them, and their fruit never ripens. The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit’. In this way the parable teaches that when the message of the Kingdom is preached, people respond in different ways. Some people became fruitful for the Kingdom and acquire the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

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In the same way, the parable of the mustard seed in Luke 13:18-19 compares the Kingdom to a mustard seed sown in a field. “The plant grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make their nests in its branches.” The parable almost prophesies to the people about what the church would become. It was to grow from small beginning into something significant, which would give shelter and protection to people.

The most important teachings that Jesus used parables to convey were God’s care for the lost. Religious people in the time of Jesus would not have readily received this ...

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