Parables of Jesus

At Bible Basics… Layers of Understanding we try to throw out all of our preconceived notions and look at Scripture and the Parables of Jesus, the Miracles, and the Ministry, the Life of Jesus Christ with new eyes, ears, hearts, and minds. We try to look at the Parables of Jesus anew, looking for new meanings that we may have missed before. If you believe that you fully understand a parable, you know the “twist,” you know the meaning – You Stop Looking!

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What makes the parables mysterious, or difficult,
is that they challenge us to look into the hidden aspects
of our own values, our own lives.

Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi
Amy-Jill Levine

It's Never Too Late

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Parables of Jesus
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
Matthew 20:1-16 NIV

1”For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius (The usual daily wage; a Roman soldier also received on denarius a day. NIV note 20:2) for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3”About the third hour (9:00 AM) he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5So they went. “He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour (3:00 PM) and did the same thing. 6About the eleventh hour (5:00 PM) he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7” ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8”When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9”The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12’These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13”But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16”So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

· It seems that God does not spend all of his time in church. God spends most of His time out in the world looking for US!

· First of all the owner of the vineyard (God) is often out about working seeking workers (YOU/all of us).

· The workers were hired at sunrise, 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and 5 pm.

God is looking for us all of the time!

· God paid the latecomers first. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO FIND GOD!

· and paid the sunrise workers last. “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark9:35 Who is the Greatest?

· This parable occurs only in Matthew’s Gospel. In its original setting, its main point seems to be the sovereign graciousness and generosity of God extended to “LATECOMERS” (the poor and the outcast of society) into God’s kingdom.

I feel like I am one of the workers that was hired in the eleventh hour!

It is addressed to the grumblers who just cannot handle this amazing expression of God’s grace. They almost certainly represent the religious leaders who opposed Jesus.
NIV Note Matthew 20: 1-16

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few....”

Matthew 9:37

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary:
Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Weed Killer

The Parable of the Sower

Parables of Jesus
The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1-23
Mark 4:1-12
Luke 8:4-10

Matthew 13:3-9 NIV

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

Jesus tells the meaning of the parable:

Matthew 13:18-23 NIV 18”Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When 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.

20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

22The 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.

23But 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.”


When I was planted
I was a small seed.
I was watered with arrogance and greed.

I have grown tall;
I am a weed.

But Rains of Grace fell down from heaven.
My old life has died.

Now I have been replanted;
The smallest of seeds.

I am now growing
and bearing good fruit.

God is my Gardener who prunes and cares
for my needs.

God pulls all of my weeds!

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord...
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they go right on producing delicious fruit.

– Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock,
and there is no wickedness in him.”

Psalm 92:12-15 NIV

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary:
Parable of the Sower

A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath

Luke 13:10-17 NIV

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman , a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her.”

When he said this, all of his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Remember, women were greatly marginalized in this society. Women were not permitted in all areas on the temple to worship. This was a very structured society set with their customs. Jesus came and broke all of the rules! We do not recognize today many of the social taboos that Jesus broke in his time!

1. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward.
First, Jesus brought her to the front, to the pulpit. Women’s role in the church is still an issue today, two thousand years later!

2. and said to her, “Woman you are set free from your infirmity.”
Second, Jesus actually spoke to her in the temple. Speaking to a woman in public was improper much less in the temple!

3. Then he put his hands on her,
Touching a woman in public was prohibited again much less in the temple!

4. and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. It is alright to do “good” on the Sabbath.

5. a daughter of Abraham
It had always been a son of Abraham… women had no inheritance from God except through their husbands as a conduit to God. NOW there was no separation between women and God; women also had direct access to God. (This is one reason why the women were so anxious to be with Jesus when he was crucified.)

6. The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?”

*untie his ox. The priest had more regard for the needs of an animal than for the far greater need of a person.
NIV Note Luke 13:15

Jesus called his critics “hypocrites” because they pretended zeal for the law, but their motive was to attack him and his healing.
NIV note 132:15

When I first read this scripture, A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath I thought it was only about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, I had missed the other five important points of the scripture.

Again – We are in the most danger of missing something when we think we fully know and understand something! If we think we know something; we look no further!

I now have my 1:5 Rule, for every one point I think I understand, I realize that I am probably missing five other important points! The more I learn, the more I know I am missing! When we read the Bible we need to always search for the deeper meanings and to ask others and ourselves questions.

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary:
A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 NIV

25On 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?”

27He 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’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28”You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30In 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. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He 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. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[c] 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?”

37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

NIV Footnotes:
Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
Luke 10:35 Greek two denarii

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:
'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'
But... the good Samaritan reversed the question:
'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Good Samaritan
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Matthew 25:40
Artwork: "The Good Samaritan" by Vincent van Gogh.
Bible Basics Video Presentation

The Good Samaritan
Bible Basics Power Point

Eternal life is a present day reality
as we love our neighbors as ourselves.

· It is significant that the person Jesus commended was neither a religious leader nor the lay associate, but a hated foreigner (Samaritan). Jews viewed Samaritans as half-breeds, both physically and spiritually. Jews practiced open hostility but Jesus asserted that love knows no national boundaries. NIV Notes 10:31-33

The Samairitan would have been the last person expected to help. (To the Jews) Receiving goodwill, compassion from a Samaritan would have been the most surprising, unexpected person to have helped the beaten man.

Sometimes our help, our blessings will come from
a stranger whom we do not know or trust!

· The priest and the Levite who both passed on the other side did so because of strict laws. Blood or a dead person was considered ceremonially unclean. If the priest or the Levite had touched the beaten man they would have been unclean and could not have entered the synagogue for worship until extensive washing ceremonies and offerings had been made. We are NOT to vilify and judge harshly the Priest and the Levite; they were doing their "duty"on their way to Worship to serve others.

Lessons learned from The Good Samaritan
LOOK, See, Recognize!

Nobody should seek his own good,
but the good of others.

1 Corinthians 10:24

SYMPATHIZE with people’s pain!

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.

6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NLT


Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.
If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

Proverbs 3:27-28


10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Short Stories by Jesus:
The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Jesus was a skilled storyteller and perceptive teacher who used images from everyday life to stir up interest in his message about the Kingdom of God. But life in first-century Galilee and Judea was very different from our world today, and many traditional interpretations of Jesus's stories not only ignore this difference, but also often import anti-Jewish and sexist views. As eminent Bible scholar Amy-Jill Levine writes in Short Stories by Jesus:

Jesus was requiring that his disciples do more than listen; he was asking them to think as well. What makes the parables mysterious, or difficult, is that they challenge us to look into the hidden aspects of our own values, our own lives. They bring to the surface unasked questions, and they reveal the answers we have always known, but refuse to acknowledge. Religion has been defined as designed to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. We do well to think of the parables of Jesus as doing the afflicting. Therefore, if we hear a parable and think, "I really like that" or, worse, fail to take any challenge, we are not listening well enough.

In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Levine explores Jesus's most popular parables, revealing their hidden depths, exposing their misinterpretations, and showing how they can still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.

Next: Struggle with God

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