From "The Parables of Jesus: Entering, Growing, Living, and Finishing in God's Kingdom" by Terry Johnson.
We know that Jesus taught with parables (not the only way He taught, but (Johnson says) that whenever it is recorded that Jesus taught, He included parables.
He gives 5 related by slightly different definitions of "parable".
(1) "wise sayings of a pictorial kind" (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, 354)
(2) "A story taken from real life (or a real-life situation) from which a moral or spiritual truth is drawn" (J.M.Boice)
(3) "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning" (an old Sunday School definition)
(4)"examples of popular story-telling that are meant to evoke a response and to strike a verdict" (A.M.Hunter, Interpreting the Parables")
(5) " a comparison, a putting of one thing beside another to make a point" (Robert F. Capon, The Parables of the Kingdom)
The parables are interesting because they sometimes turn what we "know" upside down.
"bad people are commended, good people are scolded and unanticipated pople are rewarded and punished" (p.16
The parables illuminate those with the key, but obscure it for those who do not. The disciples had to ask about the parable of the sower.
Jesus' answer is that parables are uniquely suited to the central principles of redemption in that they in fact both reveal the truth and veil it. They are illuminating for some and at the same time obscuring for others.
- do the definitions make sense?
- why would Jesus use a confusing method of teaching?