"Once upon a time ... there was Cinderella
... Snow White ... Sleeping Beauty ...."
What magic these words conjure up - fairy
tale stories of which most, if not all of us, have heard
and read. Perhaps in different languages, perhaps even
with slight differences in the individual tales ... but
stories nonetheless that have been passed down from parent
to child over many years.
Stories can be fun; stories can be exciting;
well-loved stories are remembered ... and that is one
reason why Jesus told 'stories'. He wanted those who heard
them to remember them.
But the stories Jesus told were different.
They were called Parables.
When Jesus talked with the religious leaders,
who thought they knew all about God, he used the kind
of words and arguments that they used. But when he taught
the ordinary people and his followers - or disciples -
in particular, he used stories to explain God's Kingdom
Every story is a picture and Jesus would
illustrate his parables with day-to-day events that everyone
would recognise. Jesus spoke to his followers of shepherds,
fishermen, farmers and housewives, trees, plant and animals.
When he told his stories people could relate to what he
was talking about - but his parables were also a challenge.
To most people they were just stories, but
for some they were a puzzle. What did the parables really
mean? Why did Jesus teach in parables? Well, it was Jesus'
way of teaching only to those who really wanted to learn,
who were prepared to apply themselves to find out more.
And fortunately for those people,Jesus was
prepared to help and he would explain the meanings of
the parables to them when they asked him. The many people
who were just inquisitive, however, and who did not want
to hear and obey God's message - well, they remained 'in
So what parables did Jesus tell? Here are
a few I'm sure you will recognise ...
Why not look them up and read them - and
try and work out for yourself what message Jesus is giving.
Throughout his teachings, Jesus emphasised
the need for his disciples to follow him and listen to
what he had to say. He knew that one day he would have
to leave them. He was to be killed, raised from the dead
and ascend to heaven to be with his Father, God. But one
day he would come back - and his disciples had to be ready
24:42-44 Jesus told the story of a house owner who
was robbed. Sadly, as with most robberies, it had been
unexpected and the house owner was taken unprepared. Had
he known when the thief was going to burgle the house,
the owner would have been ready for him and would have
been able to protect his belongings. But the thief arrived
suddenly, at a time when the owner was otherwise occupied,
and it will be like that for many people when Jesus comes
back to the earth. They will be unprepared; they will
not be expecting Jesus and will be taken by surprise;
they will be caught off guard.
Disciples of Jesus, on the other hand, know
that he is going to return and so must learn to keep watch.
No one knows just when Jesus will come back, but if we
are waiting patiently and watching carefully, we will
be as ready as we can be for his arrival.
In another parable Jesus spoke of his return
in this manner:
"But of that day and hour no
one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son,
but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you
do not know when the time is ... lest, coming suddenly,
he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to
[Mark 13:32,33,36 NKJV]