Jesus used earthly stories to teach heavenly concepts. We call these parables, which is a type of analogy. Sometimes the meaning of the parable was obvious and other times it needed to be explained.
Here are five parables of Jesus that teach us some biblical principle that we can apply in our lives.
The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37
A lawyer approached Jesus and asked what he needed to do to be saved. He was looking for Jesus to approve that he knew the law and had obeyed it sufficiently to earn his way to Heaven. Jesus replied that if the man kept the whole law (which Jesus knew he could not) then he could earn his salvation. The lawyer, apparently aware that he had not loved other people as he supposedly loved God asked Jesus to qualify exactly which people he was supposed to love to be saved.
Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan.
As a man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho he was robbed, beaten and left half dead. A priest walked by and saw the man, but passed by on the other side of the road so as not to be bothered by the man. Later a Levite did the same thing.
Finally a Samaritan, who were not loved by the Jews, saw the Jewish man lying beside the road. The Samaritan bound up the wounds of the man and carried him to an inn. At the inn he continued to care for the wounded man until he had to leave. He gave money to the innkeeper to continue to care for the wounded man.
Jesus then asked the lawyer which of the three men was a neighbor. The lawyer answered that it was the Samaritan who had shown mercy to the wounded man. Jesus said that the lawyer needed to show that type of mercy and compassion on all men.
The teaching is that to be the right type of neighbor with all those around us, we should show mercy and compassion on all men.
The Hidden Treasure – Matthew 13:44
A single-verse parable teaches the value of the Kingdom of Heaven. This verse says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure found in a field. When the person finds the treasure he is willing to sell everything he has so that he can buy the field in which it lay. We should value God’s Kingdom in the same way.
The Pharisee and The Publican – Luke 18:9-14
Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a proud Pharisee who trusted his own works to declare his righteousness. The other was a publican, or a tax collector, who knew he had done wrong towards God and others.
The Pharisee prayed and thanked God that he was not like other people who needed to come to God and ask for forgiveness. He felt he was sufficiently self-righteous and had easily earned his way into Heaven.
The publican was a Jewish man who worked with the Romans to extort taxes from other Jews. This story does not condemn his occupation, but it does say that he recognized his sin before the Lord.
Jesus said that the Pharisee walked away still in his sins. He did not have God’s forgiveness in his life because he refused to humble himself before God and ask for forgiveness. The publican, however, was declared righteous by Jesus because he recognized that he could not save himself and needed the forgiveness of God in his life.
Houses on Rocks and Sand – Matthew 7:24-27
This parable was spoken by the Lord at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said that we should not only hear His teachings, but also act upon what we learn. Then Jesus equated the value of His teachings to the foundations of two different houses.
The one who hears and obeys Jesus’ words is like a wise man who builds a house on a firm foundation. The winds and rain of life come and beat on the house, but his foundation and house are strong.
However, the foolish man is one who does not learn from the teachings of Jesus. The foundation of his life and “house” is not firm. When the storms of life come beating down upon him he will crumble. He experiences a complete destruction of his house.
The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32
This is the third in a series of three parables about lost items. The first was a lost sheep, the next was a lost coin and this one about a lost son. All three teach about forgiveness and restoration.
The younger of two sons decided that he was ready to move away from home and strike out on his own. He asked his father for his inheritance. The young man went to a far country and quickly made friends—probably because of his money. However, the Bible says that when the money was gone so were his friends.
Without money and food the boy found a job working for a farmer. His job was to feed the sheep. He became so hungry that he had to eat with the sheep to survive.
In this awful condition the young man realized that even the servants in the house of his father lived better than he was living. He determined to return to his father as a servant, not a son.
When the young man returned he was surprised to find his father eagerly waiting for him. The young man arrived to open arms. Though he came home to be a servant, his father gave him a ring, a robe and a welcoming party.
There are many applications of this parable. A basic one is that as children of God He will welcome us back, with rejoicing, when we stray away from Him.
What is your favorite parable of Jesus?
The Bible Readings for these Parables can be found at the following links:
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)
Photo by : V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers /VisualBibleAlive.com