God On The Net

Parables of Jesus
in Luke's Gospel


"What is a parable?"

A parable is a story that conveys a moral truth.  Historicity is not important in a parable, since the moral truth is the important point.

Parables go by many names.  For example, Aesop's Fables are parables.  Lawyers use parables all the time in court -- they are referred to as analogies or "hypotheticals."

"What is historicity?"

Historicity means historical accuracy, i.e., the events actually occurred as described.

"Are the stories Jesus told true?  Was there actually a guy who paid everybody the same pay regardless of how long they worked?"

As Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"  Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus' parables probably do not have historicity.  In other words, there probably never was a vineyard owner who hired people throughout the day and paid them all the same amount in the evening.  But the parables do convey moral truths.

That parable basically means there is no seniority with God and makes several points:

  • God equally rewards both people who follow Him throughout their lives and people who follow Him only in the latter part of their lives.

  • God promises eternal life to those who follow Him.  As long as He delivers on His promise to me, why should I be bothered by the fact that He gives the reward to others?

  • Many Christians have the attitude "I'm a better Christian because I'm not a 'Johnny come lately'."  God disagrees.

  • Many Christians have the attitude "People in my church should do things my way because I've been here longer."  God disagrees.

  • No person should feel "There's no point in becoming a Christian now.  I've lived such a terrible life that even if I became a Christian I would get little or no reward."

  • God doesn't care how long you didn't follow Him.  His care is "When your life on Earth ended, were you follower?"

It is important to realize that Jesus did not simply teach about how to live a 'good' life or be a 'nice person'.  Each of His parables also taught about The Relationship Between God and Man.


Luke 6:37-42  [37] "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  [38] Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  [39] He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?  [40] A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.  [41] "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  [42] How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.


Luke 6:43-45  [43] "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  [44] Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  [45] The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.


Luke 6:46-49  [46] "Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  [47] I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.  [48] He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  [49] But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."


Luke 7:43 36-50  [36] Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  [37] When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, [38] and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.  [39] When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is -- that she is a sinner."  [40] Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.  [41] "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  [42] Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"  [43] Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.  [44] Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  [45] You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  [46] You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  [47] Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven -- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."  [48] Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."  [49] The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  [50] Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

THE SOWER (in Luke)

Luke 8:11 4-15  [4] While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: [5] "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.  [6] Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.  [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.  [8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  [9] His disciples asked him what this parable meant.  [10] He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " `though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' [11] "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.  [12] Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  [13] Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.  [14] The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  [15] But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

THE SOWER (in Matthew)

Matthew 13:3-8 [3] Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed.  [4] As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  [5] Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  [6] But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  [7] Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  [8] Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop -- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  [9] He who has ears, let him hear."

Matthew 13:18-23  [18] "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: [19] When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  [20] The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  [21] But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.  [22] The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.  [23] But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."


Luke 10:35 25-37  [25] On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  [26] "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"  [27] He answered: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' " [28] "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."  [29] But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"  [30] In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  [31] A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  [32] So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  [33] But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  [34] He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  [35] The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' [36] "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"  [37] The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."


Luke 12:13-21  [13] Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."  [14] Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"  [15] Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."  [16] And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  [17] He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' [18] "Then he said, `This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  [19] And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' [20] "But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' [21] "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."


Luke 12:22-31  [22] Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  [23] Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  [24] Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  [25] Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  [26] Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  [27] "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  [28] If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  [29] And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  [30] For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  [31] But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.


Luke 12:35-40  [35] "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, [36] like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  [37] It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  [38] It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.  [39] But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  [40] You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."


Luke 12:41-48  [41] Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?"  [42] The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?  [43] It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.  [44] I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  [45] But suppose the servant says to himself, `My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.  [46] The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.  [47] "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.  [48] But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.


Luke 13:6-9  [6] Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.  [7] So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, `For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' [8] " `Sir,' the man replied, `leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.  [9] If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "


Luke 14:7-11  [7] When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: [8] "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  [9] If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, `Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  [10] But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, `Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.  [11] For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."


Luke 14:12-14  [12] Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  [13] But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


Luke 14:28-33  [28] "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  [29] For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, [30] saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' [31] "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  [32] If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  [33] In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.


Luke 15:3-7  [3] Then Jesus told them this parable: [4] "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  [5] And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders [6] and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' [7] I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


Luke 15:8-10  [8] "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  [9] And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' [10] In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."


Luke 16:10-13  [10] "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  [11] So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  [12] And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?  [13] "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."


Luke 15:29 11-32  [11] Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons.  [12] The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.  [13] "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

[14] After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  [15] So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  [16] He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

[17] "When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  [18] I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  [19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' [20] So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  [21] "The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. '

[22] "But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  [23] Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.  [24] For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

[25] "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  [26] So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  [27] `Your brother has come,' he replied, `and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' [28] "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  [29] But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  [30] But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

[31] " `My son,' the father said, `you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  [32] But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

  • We don't have to (and can't) earn God's love.

  • God loves us because He considers us His children.  We are family.

  • God won't force us to live by His rules.  If we insist, He will let us go our own way.

  • If we choose to do things our own way instead of the Father's way, we have to live with the consequences of our actions.

  • God will always accept a repentant sinner, no matter what the person has done.

  • Even when the prodigal son was working and starving, no one gave him anything.  His father gave him a ring, the best robe, and sandals and held a celebration.  The Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father, who art in heaven ..."

  • Those who have been good should not resent those who have been forgiven.

  • No matter what we have done in the past, God is genuinely happy when we come to Him.

  • The older son never took advantage of what was already available for him.  Many people do the same with Jesus' free gift of salvation.


Luke 5:33-39  [33] They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."  [34] Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  [35] But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."  [36] He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.  [37] And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  [Because new wine is still fermenting; it gives off gas, causing a buildup in pressure. Old wineskins have already stretched to their limit.] If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  [38] No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.  [39] And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, `The old is better.'"



(c) 1998 by Rick Reinckens

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