An Introduction to the Gospel Parables
(((A listing and links to all the parables are at the bottom of this page)))
For years, I thought the parables of Jesus were just quaint little stories about a lot of different things. But Jesus’ foremost thought was about his gospel. The parables were his way of explaining and confirming it so we could best live it.
The very first words from our Lord’s mouth said to believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Some of his last words said the gospel must be preached in all the world before the end would come (Mat 24:14).
The gospel was the focus of Jesus’ time on earth!
He came to give testimony to this truth (John 18:37).
It was also primary to Paul, who wrote over half the New Testament explaining it (Acts 20:24). It is so important God instructs his angels to preach it to folks here on the earth (Rev 14:6).
The reason it is so important to God that we live it is because the gospel is how he blesses, prospers, and empowers us to live in health, and participate in the abundant life of Jesus, — and also to have assurance of eternal life in heaven (II Tim 1:10).
We must understand all the gospel says. Here is each of the parables of Jesus, and is hopefully a helpful means to this end.
People often seem to miss the importance of the gospel in the New Testament. Gospel truth and reality was the main thing people had to think about during the teachings of Jesus,
The Gospel Was Predicted By God
God told Moses, centuries in advance, that he’d send his Prophet Jesus with a special message for us we would be required to believe and live (Deut 18:15-19). Note it says ‘required.’ We tend to think so many things are optional with regard to belief, but they really aren’t. We don’t like to be told what we have to believe, even by God himself!!! Yet, God requires certain beliefs.
Acts Affirms God’s Gospel Prediction
Acts 3:23-26 affirms it in the New Testament, and adds that people will be ‘destroyed’ for not living it. I don’t feel this refers to salvation as much as living the abundant life of Jesus. Without gospel truth, we get stuck in a mundane religious type of thinking and lifestyle. The gospel is powerful in us.
Paul Says Judgment Is By the Gospel
Paul says the secrets of our hearts (our beliefs) will be judged by gospel truth (Rom 2:16). He goes on to say that Jesus will return in fire, and with his angels, to judge those who do not obey (meaning believe and live) the gospel truth he came to bring us (II Thes 1:7-9).
The Ministry Focus of Jesus Was the Gospel
The first words out of the mouth of our Lord was for us to repent of all other beliefs and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). This he says was the gospel of the Kingdom of God he came to give us (Mark 1:14). He said it must be preached in all the world before the end times (Mat 24:14).
Paul’s Special Gospel Calling and Anointing
Then until the close of the first century, the main thing read and discussed by first century people was ‘the gospel according to Paul.’ It was his letters that were circulated the first 75 years or more.
Paul had been given revelation of the gospel by Jesus for 3 years in the desert (Gal 1:11-18). This was in his post-resurrection life. Then he spent 14 more years in what I call ’on the job training’ with Gentiles (Gal 2:1). Then he was given a conference with God in heaven about the gospel (II Cor 12:1-4). He was told many things he couldn’t repeat to us.
Now Come to the Parables of Jesus
If you examine Matthew, Mark, Luke and John closely, you notice Jesus didn’t do a lot of teaching on the gospel in the body of those writings. And yet if the gospel was the most important thing on his mind and heart, he had to teach on it. He could not leave it all to Paul years after his resurrection.
The fact is the gospel teaching of Jesus is mostly contained in his parables.
Even as ‘The Gospel Life Coach,’ this is something I overlooked for over 10 years. I just thought the parables were quaint stories and analogies about various facets of religious life in general. NOT SO!
The parables all focus on one thing: the gospel. As an example, Jesus would not tell us to only believe in creation, and then go out and teach us about evolution. No, Jesus’ focus was the gospel of his Father’s Kingdom! It was his sole focus!
The parables allow us to live a gospel abundant life in Jesus in, all its blessings and promises. This is why God told Moses he would REQUIRE us to live it. The parables empower us in the gospel.
Jesus’ Seeming Lack of Gospel Teaching
For the first 15 years of my Christian life I was really a legalist. After all, I was a lawyer, and I had cut my teeth on laws, procedures, statutes, ordinances and everything else legal. So I thought this must be the way to relate to God too.
In 1990 God began showing me this was not the way of his New Covenant gospel Kingdom.
I’d written a book: Counselor, State Your Case! that had been published by a mainline conservative Christian publisher, and it had been sent all over the world and sold thousands of copies. Needless to say I was proud of that book. It had received a lot of great endorsements from people, even singer Pat Boone who was a well-known celebrity. It was Bible doctrine told in light of a lawyer’s easy-to-understand ‘legal parables’ we could all relate to.
I was out hiking, and talking to God one day and he mentioned my book. He said, “You know that book that you’re so proud of?” I said yes I knew that book, and I said yes, I was proud of it. He said:
“It doesn’t have a word of gospel truth in it!”
I argued with God that he was wrong (which isn’t smart, I know). I reminded him the book was praised for being biblically accurate, very innovative, and readable. God said, “I didn’t say it wasn’t biblically accurate. I said it didn’t have any GOSPEL TRUTH.
This time with God made began to reveal to me a big difference between things that are true and things that are gospel truth. Everything in the Bible is true, but gospel truth is on a different, Kingdom level. It was born with Jesus. We only SEE it if we SEEK it. This began years of seeking. and even launched me to become ‘The Gospel Life Coach.’
But in my seeking and revelation of the gospel, I began to observe something (at least I thought I did). It was this: Jesus spoke a lot about the gospel but he didn’t really define it and teach about it very much. If it was so important, why didn’t he reveal more about it? I asked God about this as I agonized over this perplexity for about 10 years.
At first I just thought Jesus deferred to Paul to explain it all to us after his resurrection (the gospel is only truly grasped in light of the resurrection). And Jesus said he had many things to say, but we could not understand them (John 16:12). So I assumed Jesus had deferred to Paul (which is true to a degree).
Have you noticed God doesn’t always answer our prayers on the spot? He sometimes makes us think first. Well, he made me think for 10 years, and I still hadn’t come up with a whole lot!
I’d ask God about this again and again and he was just totally silent in the whole process. Then one day about 2005 I heard God say in my spirit:
“Consider the parables in relation to the gospel.”
–Of course I’d considered them! I’d read them many times. They were nice little stories Jesus told about many different ways to live the Christian life. But I had never thought about them in conjunction with gospel truth of God’s Kingdom. This was true even though many of the parables begin with Jesus saying, “The Kingdom is like…”
Finally my dull mind made the connection:
The parables reveal ‘the gospel of God’s Kingdom.’
They were the way Jesus used to explain and reveal
gospel truth and reality of God’s Kingdom to us.
This changed everything about how I approached the parables,
and thus the reason for this message.
A Special Note:
There are volumes of books about the parables, and they analyze them in many different ways and dig out every possible true thing that can be found. This is NOT my purpose here. Everything in the Bible is TRUE, but my focus here is GOSPEL TRUTH!
My purpose here is to mainly dig out the main concept of what the GOSPEL is saying to us in the parable so you can discern the flow of the gospel in your life — (1) how the gospel works in us, (2) the importance of the gospel, (3) how God relates to us in it. I will begin with how the gospel works in us.
Also, you should READ the parables. I give you the passages to read. I do not QUOTE the parable! I only talk about it. To hear me TALK about it and not READ it is like buying a pair of shoes and not trying them on first.
The Parables of Jesus
(((If it is highlighted it is ready to read)))
(((Check back — others are added regularly)))
(1) They tell us how the gospel of the Kingdom of God works in us.
1. The Parable of the Sower
2. The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds
3. The Parable of the Mustard Seed
4. The Parable of the Leaven
5. The Parable of Automatic, Spontaneous Growth
6. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders
7. The Parable of the Good Samaritan
8. The Parable of the Children at Play
9. The Parable of the Unprepared Builder
10. The Parable of the Warrior King
11. The Parable of the Empty House
12. The Parable of A Servant’s Duty
13. The Parable of the Dishonest Servant
14. The Parable of Taking the Lowest Place
15. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
16. The Parable of the Two Debtors
17. The Parable of the Divided Inheritance
18. The Parable of Salt, Lights and Lamps
19. The Parable of the Vine and the Branches
20. The Parable of the Two Sons
(2) They tell us about the importance of God’s gospel in us.
21. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
22. The Parable of the Pearl
23. The Parable of the Groom and the Groomsmen
24. The Parable of the Patch On the Garment
25. The Parable of the Wine and the Wineskins (Bottles)
26. The Parable of the Homeowner: Old and New Things
(3) They tell us how Abba Father God relates to us personally in his gospel.
27. The Parable of the Lost Sheep
28. The Parable of the Lost Coin
29. The Parable of the Wayward Son
30. The Parable of the Older Brother
31. The Parable of the Workers and Their Hours
32. The Parable of the Talents (or Gold Coins)
33. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
34. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
35. The Parable of the Friend At Midnight
36. The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge
(4) They tell us about judgment in the Kingdom of God.
37. The Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar
38. The Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard
39. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Girls
40. The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
41. The Parable of the Last Judgment (the Sheep and Goats)
A Vision I Had About Life After Death